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These numbers – 8 percent; 1 in 5; 40 percent – by themselves may seem insignificant to you when read alone. How would you feel if these numbers reflected crime in your neighborhood? Unfortunately these statistics relate to the crimes that occur in our schools?
eeAs per statistics, 8 percent of high school age girls said “yes” when asked “if a boyfriend or date has ever forced sex against your will.” One in five female high school students report being physically and or sexually abused by a dating partner; 12 percent of high school students (female and male) report experiencing some form of dating violence and 40 percent of girls age 14 to 17 report knowing someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.
These are frightening statistics. It is more so for the teens who are suffering as victims. ee
As health professionals, parents, teachers and administrators, and law enforcement it is critical that we discuss the issue of domestic violence.
We must realize that the impact of dating or domestic violence has a rippling effect on the emotional, physical and psychological aspects of our lives.
It is not just the victims, but also the perpetrators who are negatively affected. It is important to educate ourselves and our teens on the prevalence and the consequences or dating violence. We must emphasize that an assault – be it sexual or physical – is a crime.
In many states across this country stalking is a crime, not just a harmless crush. When we relate teen violence to what occurs in the adult world, when we see that 76 percent of women reported that they have been raped or physically assaulted since age 18 by a current or former husband, cohabiting partner or date, we should see that this is not just a problem that ends after adolescence. ee
As a health professional, a pediatrician, I urge all of us to take an active role in fighting against domestic violence. Speak to your teen boys and girls. Also, please remember that boys can be victims as well. More often than not sons will not as willingly share this information without prompting. Provide an avenue by which they can divulge this emotionally charged part of their lives. Get the law involved when needed. The life you save will definitely not be just one, but all those who that young man or woman touches in their lifetime.ee
S. Singleton, MDeeee
Editor’s note: Dr. Singleton’s letter was submitted by Palmetto Citizens Against Sexual Assault.