Teaching Black Teens the Signs of Dating Violence


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Breaking News!

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Maya Pottinger, Word in Black

Officially, about 1 in 3 teens in the United States experiences teen dating violence. But those are only the reported numbers.

A teenage Black girl texts on her phone (Getty Images)

This story is part of “Love Don’t Live Here” Word In Black’s series about how domestic violence impacts our community and what we can do about it. Trigger Warning: These stories contain mention of domestic violence and abuse.

Back in the 1990s, everyone was jealous of their classmate who had a phone in their room — doubly so if it was a private line. Otherwise, your parents could pick up in another room and listen in to your conversations, or at least know who you were talking to and when. 

But with the dominance of cell phones, teens can live entire lives their parents don’t know about.

And that makes it harder to see, let alone identify, teen dating violence. It also means that teen dating violence has changed.

Identifying Teen Dating Violence

While teen dating violence bears similarities to intimate partner violence among adults, there are some key differences. A teen still has a developing brain, says Dr. Ashlee Murray, the director of STOP IPV at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“This is often teens’ first exploration into new relationships and what’s romantic and concerning, what is okay and what is not,” Murray says. “They’re trying to explore these boundaries.”

So, yes, teen dating violence does show up as physical and sexual violence, stalking, and psychological aggression. But it also manifests in more subtle forms, like peer pressure, threatening to expose someone’s weaknesses or sexual orientation, spreading rumors, gaslighting, convincing someone to skip class or work, or isolating someone from friends and family.

Read more about teen dating violence in the original article.

Read another Breaking News article about preventing domestic violence in the Black community here.

Find even more Breaking News here.

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