Mind and Body: April about teen dating violence awareness

Youth dating violence is too common.

The statistics reveal:

— Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.

— One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.

— One in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.

— Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence — almost triple the national average.

— Among female victims of intimate partner violence, 94 percent of those ages 16-19 and 70 percent of those ages 20-24 were victimized by a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend.

— Violent behavior typically begins between the ages of 12 and 18. Dating violence crosses all sexual, racial, economic and social lines.

What are the warning signs? Being able to tell the difference between healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships can be more difficult than you would think. No two relationships are the same, so what is unhealthy in one relationship may be abusive in another.

Although there are many signs to pay attention to in a relationship, look for these common warning signs of dating abuse:

— Checking cell phones, emails or social networks without permission

— Extreme jealousy or insecurity

— Constant belittling or put-downs

— Explosive temper

— Creating isolation from family and friends

— Making false accusations

— Erratic mood swings

— Physically inflicting pain or hurt in any way

— Possessiveness

— Telling someone what to do

— Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex.

What are some red flags for friends and families to watch for? While the following non-specific warning signs could indicate other concerning things such as depression or drug use, these should also raise a red flag about the possibility of an unhealthy relationship:

— No longer hanging out with his/her circle of friends

— Wearing the same clothing

— Distracted when spoken to

— Constantly checking cell phone, gets extremely upset when asked to turn phone off

— Withdrawn, quieter than usual

— Angry, irritable when asked how they are doing

— Makes excuses for their boyfriend/girlfriend

— Showering immediately after getting home

— Unexplained scratches or bruises.

If you or someone you know is involved in relationship with violence, please contact the crisis line at 1-800-544-2022 or call local emergency services. More information is available at the website, greenhouse17.org.

Information taken from loveisrespect.org and www.acadv.org. Clark County Health Department provides programs for the entire family, including WIC, HANDS, family planning, well child care/immunizations, and home health care. For more information on all of our services, call 744-4482 or visit our website at www.clarkhealthdept.org.