Adolescent Dating Violence

Adolescent dating violence (ADV) is something that doesn’t get spoken about much in Western Australia, yet if the statistics from other countries are anything to go by, there is a large problem that exists under the silence.

In Canada, one in three young people experience dating violence . In the United States 1.5 million high school students report being intentionally hit or harmed by a person they are romantically involved with.

It is well known the festive season is a time when there is a spike in the reported cases of DV. People are spending more time together, family tensions, alcohol and financial pressures often create an environment when DV occurs. The similar pressures can occur for young people:
• Increased time together.
• Tensions from the wider family can spill into the young person’s relationship.
• Increased alcohol and/or drug use leading to increased violence and/or control within the dating relationship.

Why is it a problem?

At a basic level adolescent dating violence violates a young person’s right to safe and healthy development.
Young people who experience dating violence are more likely to long term consequences such as alcohol dependency, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts . (50% of young people who experience rape or sexual & physical abuse will attempt suicide) .
In the Canadian study, 18% of young people had a dating partner use social media to hurt, embarrass or monitor them .
Dating violence is also a strong risk factor for domestic violence in adulthood .
Dating violence also disproportionally affects young people who are already marginalised, for example young people who are living in poverty or homeless and young people who are trans and non-binary.

What can we do about it?

We can start talking about it.

We talk to our young people about alcohol and drug use.  We talk about issues of consent and safe sex.  We also need to talk about dating violence so our teenagers are aware and so they understand the warning signs such as their boyfriend being jealous of them or demanding to know what they are doing all the time.

Other things we can do include:

  • Teaching our teenagers to be assertive

Teaching the skills to be assertive is important in many areas of life such as dealing with bullying, dating and toxic people in workplaces.

  • Talk about healthy and unhealthy behaviours in relationships

It is easy for young people to get caught up in romantic ideas about love and realise too late that their partner is being driven by jealousy and wanting to the control them rather than wanting the best for them.

  • Become a safe place where young people can talk openly and honestly.

We need to provide safe spaces where young people can talk about what is happening for them in their relationships.  We need to model help seeking behaviour for young people. Being strong is not trying to sort things out yourself, it is having the strength to ask for assistance.

 

– Written by David Kernohan, Director of Youth Legal Services



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