Violence among teens who date in New York City presents a problem, if not an epidemic. The nature of the problem is secretive, as it is laden with shame and guilt, so it often goes unreported. Furthermore, men or women who suffer from violence in dating are threatened by the violator and so further risk their own safety by reporting the wrong doing. This makes gather information difficult, as it goes under reported or even unreported. However, the severity of the issue and the need for help among the hurting compels them to share. We know that the New York City Domestic Abuse Helpline receives an average of 1,400 calls a month from teenagers. Thus, I will present some current information about the state of teen dating violence, its causes, and possibly solutions for those under attack.
The Day One organization, a group based in New York City aimed to identify and prevent abuse in relationships, provides statistics regarding the violence among teens and dating couple in New York City and the nation. Their data is all based on external reports and studies, lending credit to the numbers expressed therein. In NYC schools, one in ten students reported some sort of physical or sexual violence in a relationship. One in three teens claimed they experience some form of emotional or verbal abuse in a dating relationship. Young females, those between 15 and 24 years of age, face the most violence in dating relationships. Among this population in NYC, coercion describes the majority (67%) of dating violence characteristics, more than physical violence or sexual experiences. Tragically, only three to six percent of cases involving a superior figure, such as a teacher or boss, were reported. Regarding ethnicity and demographics, the violence occurs more prominently among those of lower economic classes but the distinction is not firm. Most organizations claim that teen dating violence occurs among all nationalities of all social and economic classes.
Causes and Solutions
Teen dating violence can arise from many issues. A partner might feel angry about something unrelated to the relationship and act out against the other person. Jealously reflects the classic case of envy that stirs hatred that begets physical or verbal abuse. The Day One NY website lists reasons for dating violence and includes fear among the causes, as those who so desperately afraid of losing someone will hurt them as a means of keeping them close or in control. Moreover, family patterns inherited through parents and example can lead to abusive behavior. No environment or relationship teaches human beings how to act more influentially than the parent and child family setting. Thus, if a parent acted violently towards a family member, then a son or daughter receives a model of abuse to replicate in the dating context. These are not guarantees, but they do represent some of the most common and likely causes of teen dating violence.
The NYC governmental website provides a series of steps for helping a friend who has suffered violence as well as recommendations on what not to do. To help a friend, listen to them, speak with them in private, assure them you are available, and offer resources that might help them. You should not volley them with yes or no questions, force them into an ultimatum, or perpetuate any sort of shame and guilt. The website also highly recommends the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, a free telephone number available 24 hours a day. The problem has solutions, but relies upon people, friends who will listen, act, and help those teens in danger.