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Teen Health 411

Ending Teen Dating Violence

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Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships has kicked off! This four-year program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the largest national initiative ever funded to prevent dating violence and abuse - targeting 11- to 14-year-olds. One component of the project is a statewide youth radio program called I'm Da BOM (Boss of Me) which is housed in Oakland at the Family Violence Law Center.

Teens seem to be dating earlier and many experts believe that teen dating violence and abuse is on the rise. Unhealthy dating behavior like arguing, belittling, and controlling actions are seen as "normal" for many teens, who do not realize they are danger signs for future, more serious forms of abuse.

The need for interventions is supported by the results from a recent study by Dr. S. Miller suggesting that more than 25% of sixth graders believe it is sometimes O.K. for a boy to hit his girlfriend. The 5,400 participants in the study were recruited from schools in Durham, NC, Richmond, VA, Chicago, and the state of Georgia. More than half of the 6th graders reported having a boyfriend or girlfriend in the six months prior to taking the survey and 42% of those youth reported experiencing aggressive behavior directed at them from their partner. The aggression included verbal threats, physical abuse, and even sexual abuse.

For more information about Healthy Relationships, check out the ABCs of Healthy Relationships site at We're Talking Teen Health at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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