A Project for Better Journalism chapter
News, Parkdale News

PHS assembly tackles teen dating abuse

On February 6, 2018 Parkdale hosted an assembly featuring 93.9 WKSY’s “Little Bacon Bear” to tackle the growing issue of teen dating abuse.

According to the Love is respect organization, nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in just a single year.One in 10 high school students have  been purposely hit, slapped, or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.

During the assembly, participants, who ranged from ninth to twelfth graders, went over the alarming statistics of teen dating abuse.  Students learned varying facts, such as one in three women have been victims of some sort of physical violence by their significant other.

Students also went over the different forms of abuse in relationships, as well as how  healthy relationship should look.  An important note that was emphasized throughout the assembly is the idea of telling someone if abuse is experienced by a student or suspected in a peer’s relationship.

Ms. Brown, Parkdale’s school psychologist, is one of the adults in the building available for guidance on the issue of teen dating.

“The main thing that you want to do is listen and get all of the details” said Ms.Brown, “and since I’m a community resource advocate, my responsibility once I know someone has a need is to help them by referring them to the appropriate office.”

Only 33 percent of teens who are in a violent relationship ever tell anyone about the abuse.

According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, some reasons one might stay in an abusive relationship and not report or tell anyone about it may be because of:

  • fear
  • believing abuse is normal
  • feeling like they may be outed
  • shame or embarrassment
  • love for the person despite what they’re doing to them
  • cultural/religious reasons
  • immigration status
  • lack of money or
  • disability.

“Also another thing that will keep you in a abusive relationship is if you do not empower yourself,”  said Ms.Brown. “There’s a correlation between those women who have low self esteem usually being the victims.”

Abuse isn’t just physical. It can be emotional, sexual, and verbal.

Constantly tearing someone down or belittling them is verbal abuse. Controlling your partner’s actions or having them dependent to you is emotional abuse. Unwanted touching, feeling, or groping is sexual abuse.  When dealing with sexual relations, it is imperative for teens to understand that having previous consent for sexual activity or simply being in a relationship does not guarantee consent every time.  

Although it is more likely for women to report dating abuse, they are not the only victims.

“Women are the predominant gender that does get abuse but aren’t the only ones,” said Ms Brown. “It is a reverse sometimes where the men are getting abused by women.”

Statistics are low for teenage boys because they rarely or never speak up, for varying reasons including the belief that they can’t be victims of their gender, the love for the person abusing them,  or simply pride.

According to Ms. Brown, “…[boys] have been trained many of times in their homes not to hit a woman so you tend to not get a accurate reading of the statistics because of pride, their home training, or how they’re socialized.”

By not speaking up and stopping the abuse, domestically abused teens could face long-term physical emotional and sexual effects, including academic problems, chronic fatigue, involuntary shaking, depression, anxiety, the inability to trust, sexual dysfunction and hopelessness

“The thing that kind of concerns me the most is the effect on children,” said Ms.Brown. “They have been traumatized by something that you can’t even conceptualize in your head.”

Recognizing abuse and realizing you’re not at fault are two ways of getting out of an abusive relationship. Ms.Brown suggests having a safe plan that includes packing up a suitcase of clothing to have when the time comes to leave.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, call, text or speak with:

  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline- call 1-800-799-7233 ( also in spanish from 12-6 pm)
  • The Love Is Respect Organization – call 1-866-331-9474 or text : LOVEIS to 22522
  • Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center- call 1-866-879-6636
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline – call 1-800-656-4673
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline- call 1-800-273-8255
  • You can also contact one of the school’s counselors/psychologist ; Ms.cooper ( Main Building) , Ms. Herndon ( Main Building ) , Ms. Cunningham ( Main Building ) , Ms. Brown (A143) or your professional school counselor.