Media dating abuse
“We confirmed that it’s more likely that kids who were experiencing digital abuse also were experiencing other forms of teen dating violence, so it is indeed tool in the tool box of someone inclined to be abusive,” said Zweig.
“Parents need to open a dialogue with their youth about digital dating abuse, to really understand the nature of that relationship so that the child can get help if needed.” Zweig expressed her concern that some teens are starting to accept that such digital harassment is part of life.“We—parents, teachers and society—need to teach them that harassment is not the purpose of technology, so that if something happens, they are aware that it’s wrong and can seek assistance,” she said.SEE ALSO: Youth Culture Update: Abuse in the Digital Age Another key to training is for parents to teach their children what honoring the opposite sex means.Even more disturbing, digital harassment is a red flag for other abuse because such abuse in a relationship rarely happens in isolation.Eighty-four percent of the teens who report digital abuse say they also experienced psychological abuse by their partners, 52 percent say they were also physically abused, and 33 percent say they were also sexually coerced.Digitally Speaking SEE ALSO: Dating Violence in Teen Years Can Have Lasting Impact Teenagers today use technology more frequently than previous generations.
“The reason technology has made teen dating abuse easier is partly due to the amount of time our teens are spending using technology,” said Zweig.
According to the study, girls in a relationship are digitally victimized more often than boys, especially when the abuse is sexual.
This divide widens when the reported abuse involves sexual behavior.
“With the ability to text or be on a social networking site 24/7, you don’t have to be with that partner to be abusive,” pointed out Roy Baldwin, director of parenting and youth at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“When used in a negative way versus a positive way, it can be relentless and really a source of control over that partner and be very invasive in his or her life.” Digital Reduction SEE ALSO: How to Help Your Teen Make the Right Choices About Dating Pulling the plug on technology might seem like a simplistic solution to teen digital dating abuse, but that would not solve the underlying issue.
Although more research is needed, Safe Dates, the Youth Relationships Project, the 4th R curriculum, the Ending Violence curriculum, and the Shifting Boundaries program are all promising practices for increasing awareness of the risks and consequences of dating violence and/or reducing teen dating violence behavior.