Abusive Teenage Relationships on the Rise

Gayle White
April 5, 2011

Although the following post was written primarily from the
perspective of the state of Georgia, national data suggests teens across
the country are seeing a rise in abusive relationships. What's your
experience? Leave a comment. --Ed.

Thompson High School student Shakira Hudson was 15 when she was
killed.  Audrey Atkinson of Covington was 19. Jasmine Harris of Atlanta
was 17 and pregnant.

All three died in 2010. Boyfriends or ex-boyfriends were charged with their murders.

The girls’ deaths were among 130 recorded by the Georgia Commission
on Family Violence and the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence
in the 2010 Georgia Domestic Violence Fatality Report,
the largest number of such homicides since the first annual report in
2003. The report was released at a news conference at the state capitol
Wednesday.

Already this year, the agencies have recorded the death of
16-year-old Angel Freeman who was shot through the chest. Clayton County
police arrested her 15-year-old on-again-off-again boyfriend.

Although teenagers represent a small percentage of such deaths, they
are of increasing concern to law enforcement agencies, courts and
victims’ advocates. Violent teen-aged relationships can have long-term
repercussions. In almost 30 percent of a sampling of 75 domestic
homicide cases, the victims were teenagers when they began their
relationship with the person who eventually killed them. Five were only
15 when the relationship started.

“These are troubling statistics,” said Georgia Supreme Court Chief
Justice Carol Hunstein. “It may be important for school systems to get
involved in addressing the issues of domestic violence.”

Hunstein chaired a commission formed by the Supreme Court in 1989
that looked at issues of gender bias statewide. That commission’s
recommendations resulted in creation of the Commission on Family
Violence.

The 1989 commission heard mostly from adults, Hunstein said. She said
she found statistics on violence among dating teenagers in the 2010
report somewhat surprising.

“I don’t know whether it’s a new phenomenon,” she said, “but it certainly needs to be addressed.”

Several national studies reflect the prevalence of abusive relationships among teenagers. A 2008 report from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency
found that about one in three teenage girls in the United States is a
victim of verbal, emotional or physical abuse from a dating partner.
And a 2009 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that people 18 and 19 years old are the most frequent victims of stalking.

A separate 2009 study
found that in many cases, friends know of the situation. Four in ten
teenagers 14 to 17 years old reported having a friend hit or hurt by a
boyfriend. Yet 68 percent of teens who had experienced abusive dating
relationships said they never confided in their parents.

“Our intention is to encourage community outreach to address this
knowledge gap on the part of parents,” the 2010 Georgia report says.

Teenagers who won’t or can’t confide in parents have little recourse in the state’s legal system.

“Georgia law excludes teenagers and young adult victims who are
dating but have never lived with their abuser (or who do not share
children) from petitioning for a Temporary Protective Order,” the report
says. And the “pattern of behavior” necessary to receive an order
under the stalking statute is difficult to prove.

The state might be able to prevent some deaths by giving teenagers
easier access to protective orders, said Douglas County Juvenile Court
Judge Peggy Walker, chair of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence.

“We allow them to make decisions regarding their health and
reproductive systems,” she said. “The question becomes what do we do
similarly in cases of abuse if young people decide not to involve their
families.”

Escaping contact with an abuser is often difficult for a teenager
because both may attend the same school and have mutual friends.
Embarrassment or shame may also prevent a victim from seeking help.

“Annabelle,” an 18-year-old girl whose story is told at length in the
report, survived an attack by an ex-boyfriend who later committed
suicide in front of her. She had reported his abuse to the sheriff but
wondered whether she was overreacting.

Parents, teachers, faith leaders, employers and friends might be able
to intervene in a teen relationship if they learn the danger signals,
officials said.

Many assaults occur when a victim has ended or intends to end the
relationship. A victim is at high risk if the abuser has exhibited
extreme jealousy, is depressed or has talked about suicide, is a heavy
user of alcohol or drugs, has a history of making threats or stalking
and has access to weapons.

Georgia ranks tenth in the country in overall domestic violence deaths, said state Attorney General Sam Olens.

Since 2003, the year covered by the first annual report, 962 Georgians have died because of domestic violence.

“Reading this report, I see how much further we have to go,” Olens said.

 


This
column originally appeared on the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. It is reprinted with permission.

 


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Comments

This is some great research however how is it going to fix anything? It doesn&;t mention the actual reason for these murders. Did these teenagers die because they attempted to end the relationship? Maybe...
Did they die after being caught cheating? Very likely!
The point is.... understanding why these deaths happened is the only way for the community to interact with kids and prevent more deaths from happening. If we just go to them and say... "Hey, kids die when being in a relationship!" that&;s not going to change anything!
Think of it this way... 10 years ago online dating was just as dangerous. There were a lot of murders, rapes, etc. which involved online relationships. What did we do? We certainly didn&;t start dating online! Any respected <a href="http://www.datingwebsites.org/" rel=&;follow&;>dating website</a> has a system which evaluates people for signs of violence. Some will even check people&;s background and police records! This is the type of solutions we need! Teenagers have feelings and you can&;t stop that.

It's uncommon for anybody to esteem the feelings of a high school young lady. We realize that in the event that we can keep kids from attempting drugs in their adolescent years, we significantly lessen the probability that they will proceed to have issues sometime down the road. I expound on what I know: high school dating, excessively charged sexuality, every one of the things that make you uneasy.Statistics Assignment Writing

The issue of abuse in teenage relationships must be addressed by the local authorities. Most of the times, these teens are not aware that there is an agency which they can communicate about the abuse. Posters and information must be posted in bulletin boards so that these teens will at least have an idea where they can ask for help if the need arises.

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