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Nathan Miller: Teen dating violence affects 1.5 million annually

Nathan Miller • Updated Feb 15, 2017 at 4:00 PM

February is traditionally the month best associated with the color red, the emotional feeling of love and the complexities of the human heart. 

However, February is also the month that teens and parents of teens are reminded that teen dating violence is a very real issue in the U.S. and here in Wilson County.

February is recognized each year as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

Statistics show that as many as 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience some form of physical violence from a dating partner each year. 

Teen dating violence does not pick and choose preferences with respect to rural or urban areas or the demographics of those who become victims or those who are aggressors as it has no boundaries and occurs across diverse groups and cultures.  

Even in Wilson County, teen-dating violence is a matter for which parents and teens should be concerned. 

Some incidents of dating violence are reported to authorities and school officials but most are not. 

Teen dating violence is defined as a pattern of abuse or threat of abuse against teenaged dating partners, occurring in different forms, including verbal, emotional, physical and sexual. 

Dating violence is much more common than what most people think. 

According to data provided by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, one-in-three teens in the U.S. will experience physical, sexual or emotional abuse by someone with whom they are in a relationship before they become adults.

The Centers for Disease Control notes unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. 

Teens often think some behaviors, like teasing and name calling, are a “normal” part of a relationship. However, these behaviors, according to the CDC, can become abusive and develop into more serious forms of violence.

 That is why adults need to talk to teens now about the importance of developing healthy, respectful relationships.

Dating violence can have a negative effect on health throughout life. Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

I advise parents should be aware of signs of teen domestic violence and be prepared to discuss the topic with their children. 

Parents, teachers and mentors are urged to talk with teens about the importance of developing healthy, respectful relationships. 

Nathan Miller is the director of Cumberland Mental Health Center, a division of Volunteer Behavioral Health Care System.

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