Phone App Wakes Parents Up to Teen Dating Abuse via WeNews…

September 13, 2011

Parental involvement is key to combating teen dating abuse, says Jane Randel. The Liz Claiborne Inc.’s Love Is Not Abuse campaign has created an iPhone application to educate parents on what their teens may be going through.

For the past seven years, the Liz Claiborne Inc.’s Love Is Not Abuse initiative has worked to combat and prevent teen dating abuse. One of the key insights gleaned during that time is that parental involvement and guidance are essential to preventing teen dating abuse.

We’ve also learned that there are inherent challenges to parental intervention. Although parents recognize dating abuse as a problem, many believe the issue simply does not affect their child. Many also don’t realize that technology has become a platform for abuse.

Teen dating abuse is much more prevalent than many parents think; 10 percent of U.S. high school students reported experiencing assault by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year, according to Adolescent Health study authors Emily Rothman, an associate professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health, and Dr. Elizabeth Miller, division of adolescent medicine chief at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

And dating abuse is not only physical. Other, very common, forms of abuse include emotional and digital abuse. A recent study commissioned by Liz Claiborne Inc. found that 1-in-4 teens report being abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend through technology.

The need to engage parents is why we have created the Love Is Not Abuse iPhone application (app), an exciting new resource designed to educate parents and get them talking to their teens. The app informs parents about the warning signs of dating violence and emotional and digital dating abuse. Included are tips on how to talk to your teen about dating abuse and national resources to get help.

Various Developers

The app was developed with leading experts, researchers,

parents affected by dating abuse and partner organizations, including LoveIsRepect.org, the New York-based Joyful Heart Foundation and Break the Cycle and the National Network to End Domestic Violence, both based in Washington, D.C., among others.

When we recently launched the app, Denise DeZao, a mother of a teen dating abuse survivor, shared her experiences with teen dating abuse and explained why she believes the app is critical to educating parents about abuse.

“At the time, I did not recognize that my daughter was involved in an abusive relationship,” she said. “I now realize that the red flags were rapidly waving in front of me. When I experienced the app for the first time, I had the oddest sensation. I felt as if I could totally and completely experience how my daughter must have felt in her relationship. If resources like this app had been available to us then, I am confident that I would have acted upon the signs and intervened in the early stages of the relationship.”

Education is key to prevention. Parents must take a proactive approach and educate themselves on teen dating abuse before their teens enter relationships.

Resources are readily available in the app, and while some parents may find initial conversations uncomfortable, it is our hope that the Love Is Not Abuse app will be utilized to help prevent dating violence and wake parents up to the reality of teen dating abuse.

Jane Randel is senior vice president of corporate communications and brand services at Liz Claiborne Inc. Randel spearheads the company’s award-winning, cause marketing program, Love Is Not Abuse, to generate awareness, educate the public and ultimately prevent violence against women. She is on the National Advisory Board of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and is a member of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape/National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s Honorary Board.

By Jane Randel, WeNews commentator.]

Teen Dating Abuse Facts:

*60% parents cannot sufficiently identify the warning signs of abuse

*1 in 4 teens report verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse

*1 in 5 high school girls have been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner

*Dating violence among peers is reported by 54% of high school students.

*1 in 3 teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been physically hurt by his or her partner through violent actions which included hitting, punching, kicking, slapping and/or choking

*80% of teens believe verbal abuse is a serious issue for their age group

*Nearly 80% of girls who have been victims of physical abuse in their dating relationships continue to date the abuser.

*Nearly 20% of teen girls who have been in a relationship said their boyfriend had threatened violence or self-harm in the event of a break-up.

*The majority of teen dating abuse occurs in the home of one of the partners.

Teen Dating Abuse Warning Signs:

  • Isolation: Does your daughter have fewer friends than she did before meeting her boyfriend? This speaks to the isolation that an abusive boy imposes on a girlfriend. He might isolate her first from her friends, then from her outside activities and then her family. She can then become emotionally dependent on him, and find it difficult to leave.
  • Emotional Changes: In the early infatuation stage of any relationship girls are often happy. Once the boy becomes abusive, she begins feeling sad and desperate. She may cry more or want to be alone.
  • Constant Communication: Does your daughter’s boyfriend constantly call or text her, and she must call him back immediately? He might ask her where she is, what she’s doing, who she’s with, what time she’ll be back and how many other boys she has spoken to.
  • Jealousy Issues: You might notice the boyfriend’s jealousy. If your daughter looks at or speaks casually with another boy, does he get upset? Did he tell her that he loved her early in the relationship? This is his “hook.” Your daughter might find this romantic, but it could be another red flag for jealousy and issues with control.
  • The Boyfriend’s Background: If your daughter’s boyfriend comes from a tragic home life, it could mean trouble. He might not be far behind in his parent’s footsteps if they use drugs or are abusive to him or each other.
  • The Need to Impress: When he gives her “advice” about her choice in friends, hairstyle, clothes or makeup, notice if she’s following his every word. Your daughter is likely in complete denial and may be in fear of what he will do to her if she doesn’t change.
  • Making Excuses for Him: Your daughter might stick-up for her boyfriend, defending his words and actions. Don’t let her denial force you to ignore your gut! He may have convinced her that she’s too sensitive when he calls her names or told her he’s “only kidding.”
If you keep the line of communication open with her, you’ll be able to notice more signs. For more information, call the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at 866-331-9474, LoveIsNotAbuse at  866.331.9474 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE.

Take care and STAY SAFE!

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