Many parents may not appreciate the fact that dating violence fits under the umbrella of domestic violence. This is a reality that both teens and young adults deal with every day. Dating violence involves both victims and abusers. While it may be impossible to envision your child as a perpetrator of domestic violence, being aware of the signs and symptoms of abusive behavior is crucial if such behavior is to be eliminated before it becomes a pattern. By the same token, teens who have been falsely accused of such behaviors need protection. If your teen has been accused of this kind of behavior and has been charged with criminal actions, it will be necessary to provide a strong defense in order to avoid serious penalties.
Dating Violence is Widespread
Teen dating violence (TDV) is a serious issue, which is why California statute is so harsh. It is defined as any verbal, emotional, physical, economic, technological, stalking, or sexual abuse among adolescents ages 10 to 24. Consider these national statistics:
- 1.5 million high schoolers are directly affected by dating violence annually.
- One in four eighth and ninth graders report having suffered dating violence, and nearly 10% report having experienced sexual abuse.
- One in ten students in high school report being physically harmed by someone with whom they are in a romantic relationship.
- The majority of students who report incidents of acquaintance rape say drugs or alcohol were being used at the time of the incident.
A guilty conviction for domestic battery in California could mean your teen will be jailed for up to a year, in addition to being fined $2,000. If your teen is charged with domestic violence, it is a felony, and the time behind bars jumps up to as long as four years while the fine triples to $6,000. Sexual assault could face four years in prison and a $10,000 fine, and a rape conviction could mean up to eight years in prison and $25,000 in fines.
Before Dating Violence Becomes an Issue
Eight in 10 parents surveyed report they do not know much about teen violence, or they do not believe teen violence is an issue. This reveals the need for parents to learn about and intervene with the issue before it becomes a problem!
- Model and discuss what healthy social relationships look like and the feeling they engender before teens start dating.
- Teach teens effective and assertive communication skills.
- Discuss the warning signs of DTV, such as extreme demands, jealousy, and controlling behaviors.
- Make it a point to talk to your teen often about their social life, and provide your teen with the knowledge they need to make healthy decisions.
- Encourage teens to talk to you right away if things do not feel right in their relationships, and then listen without judgment.
- If you suspect a problem, get help.