The General Hospital Teen Dating Abuse Storyline
GH Entertains and Educates Viewers on Difficult Topic
General Hospital (GH) chose to tackle the topic of teenage dating abuse in a recent storyline. The story was/is the ability to entertain and educate on teen violence.
Everyday, millions of daytime fans tune into their favorite soap opera to be entertained with the latest drama which includes the extramarital affairs, evil twins, rapidly aging kids, and returns from the dead. In addition to providing this type of entertainment, the ABC Daytime Drama, General Hospital (GH) has entered into challenging story-lines, specifically because the soap is centered around a hospital. Historically, the soap has dealt with tough story-lines surrounding contemporary topics such as AIDS, breast cancer, bipolar disorder, health care, and addiction. However, GH has recently tackled a contemporary, yet sometimes shielded topic, that of teen dating abuse.
The GH Teenage Abuse Storyline
Kristina Davis (portrayed by Lexi Ainsworth) is 17, has an overbearing mother and a semi-absent father with a questionable lifestyle. She has been in trouble in the past, but has never really taken responsibility for her actions. For months, GH fans have watched as the victim, Kristina, has taken both verbal abuse and an occasional slap in the face from her boyfriend, Kiefer. Kiefer appears to be the perfect boyfriend, he gets all A’s, is involved in sports, and has been accepted into Harvard. However, he has a volatile temper and is very jealous and controlling.
Kiefer pressured Kristina into having sex and bought her a phone so that he can keep track of her at all times. Whenever he is abusive toward Kristina, he tells her that it’s her fault, saying things like “I just love you so much, but you make me so angry sometimes”. Kristina told no one of the verbal and physical abuse that she continued to experience. Ultimately, Kiefer, jealous of Kristina’s interest in another guy, beats her badly enough that she ended up in the hospital numerous times.
Teen Dating Violence Statistics
The fictional GH storyline of Kristina and Kiefer provides viewers a look into what many young people are experiencing with dating and teen violence. According to Love is Respect – National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, teen dating abuse is very common. Research has shown the following statistics:
- 20% of teens in a serious relationship reported being hit, slapped, or pushed by their partner
- About 30% of girls reported being concerned about physical abuse at the hands of their partner
- 25% of teens in a serious relationship reported that their partner prevented them from spending time with family, and felt pressure to spend time only with their partner
- 23% of girls felt sexually pressured while in a relationship and went further than they wanted to because of it
How the GH Teenage Abuse Storyline Educates Viewers
General Hospital has handled this story with compelling writing and acting. In addition, the soap has been responsible by broadcasting a series of public service announcements made by the fictional victim, Kristina (Lexi Ainsworth) after several episodes. Furthermore, in the March 30, 2010 issue of Soap Opera Weekly, Joe Diliberto states that GH is acting responsibly by using the Kristina/Kiefer story to inform viewers about teen dating violence. Consequently, viewers that are parents or teenagers themselves can benefit from the information in this storyline.
The storyline still incorporates its soap opera edge because Kristina happens to be the daughter of a mob boss, and she has accused the wrong man of the attack. Protecting her abuser by lying adds spice to the story; however, this type of protective behavior is not uncommon in these types of situations.
Teen dating abuse is part of the many complex issues that teens have to deal with today. The ABS soap opera, General Hospital chose to deal with this issue by dedicating an entire storyline to the topic. This storyline entertains the viewers, but goes beyond just entertainment by educating parents and teens about dating abuse and informs teens where they can go to get help.
This past year was my first year in high school. Admittedly I was very nervous about it due to the fact I am a very quiet girl with a few good friends.
Now I’m not quite sure when I started to notice that this boy (whom is 3 years older than myself) was watching me a lot. After a couple of weeks he had found out my E-mail and Cell phone number and was always trying to be in contact with me, and was asking about where I was going and with who. It continued to the point where he left messages playing love songs on my phone, or him saying how depressed he was when he didn’t see my face. I started to really freak out when he started to show up at the places where I was (even my doctor’s appointments).
I was told by my friend that I am too nice because I hadn’t told the guy how much he was scaring me with his questions, and I never told him to go away. Finally I worked up the nerve to tell him I wasn’t interested after he snuck up behind me when I was on my way to the bus, picked me up and started to carry me away! (Boy was I happy my two friends were there).
But he didn’t listen, and he tried to be close to me whenever he could in school. He even dated the girl with the locker next to mine! He left notes in my locker saying he missed talking to me and was always sitting near me or trying to touch my arm.
I got mad and told him to “Get lost!” again.
The very next day I was sent to the hospital due to the fact that in gym class he hit my face with a soccer ball, resulting in a concussion. He told people it was my fault. But after that, everyone in school saw what was going on and helped me to stand up to him (the teachers were close to useless without proof).
Over the next few months there has been little to no contact between us. But last week I got an email from him saying again how much he misses me and how sorry he is. His friends also sent me emails saying the same thing (they had done so in the past, urging me to go out with him as well).
With the new school year approaching, I’m wondering if he will ever go away.
I personally commend this young lady for taking a stance, speaking out and understanding her concern; but now she must know her options and what she can do to STOP HIS STALKING. SHE WAS ALSO ASSAULTED! Once you’ve been a victim, you know how life-destroying stalking and assaults can be. There are no easy answers to her concerns or questions. First and foremost, a victim should always think about her safety.
Unfortunately, the above experiences (stalking and assault) are extremely common with our young people. Our young people must be educated about stalking - STALKING IS A CRIME! ASSAULTS ARE A CRIME!
Yes, this is a wake-up call for parents everywhere – it is YOUR (“RENTS”) RESPONSIBILITY to be sure that your daughter(s) receive proper education in order for her to protect herself. She must learn awareness, how to recognize the warning signs of abuse and assault as well as what she can do to protect and ultimately defend herself if physically assaulted.
It’s high time for our school administrators and teachers to get their heads out of the sand and make classes on Personal Safety mandatory. What does a volley-ball or badminton class do for a child? What do these classes teach our young ladies about health relationships, that they have rights and what they can do about them? Personal Safety education and training is a distinct part of LIFE SKILLS. Parents is YOUR responsibility to be your child’s voice; take a stance, fight for YOUR child and be sure that she gets the proper training that she so rightly deserves. And, if the school systems won’t do something about it – IT IS YOUR DUTY AND RESPONSIBILITY TO DO IT ON YOU OWN. Do not let your child down in any way.
I have been blogging and posting about Stalking Signs, Awareness and Safety Tips all month in observance of Stalking Awareness Month. Truthfully, every day should should be an internal check about every awareness. Focusing on just one month a year of any specific cause is so minuet as the EPIDEMIC of assaults on females are off the charts.
This is no longer a taboo subject – we are talking about YOUR CHILD, your innocent child who does not have this “life skill” unless you assist her to obtain it. Isn’t she (they) worth it? Aren’t you as a female/mother worth it?
Girls – I encourage each and every one of you to be YOUR voice. Ask for education, training and ultimately how you can realistic defend and EFFECTIVELY (the key word) yourself if you are ever put in a position that you have to FIGHT BACK.
Take care and STAY SAFE!
Schools around the country are doing great things in an effort to bring awareness to teen dating abuse and promote healthy dating habits. Stacey Tanner’s ninth grade Personal and Family Development classes in Perrytown, TX have adopted “The Love is Respect Project” with help from resources they received from loveisrespect. They have distributed wallet cards describing warning signs of an abusive relationship to students throughout the high school as well as placing loveisrespect posters around the school. The students are even taking the project a step further, by competing at the state and possibly national level. Kudos to Stacey Tanner’s classes for doing such great work for teen dating abuse awareness! Click here to check out the pdf of a newspaper article on the class’ efforts. Plus we have more pics after the jump.
The “Project Safe Girls” is being spearheaded by Anny Jacoby and Bethany Corbin, recently designated as Head Educational Director. This new, innovative program is being geared towards middle school age girls in an effort to provide them with information and training to boost their confidence and self-esteem as they approach their teenage and dating years.
The program will help the girls feel empowered with knowledge about dating violence, how to spot dangers, listening to their intuition and the basics of self-defense.
“Project Safe Girls” is kicking off their first session in January 2010. They will be holding educational and training sessions at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA in Chapel Hill, NC from January through May for middle and high school aged girls.
“Project Safe Girls seeks to empower girls through the teaching of self-defense. By providing a supportive and energetic environment, participants will gain confidence and improve self-esteem while learning the basics and importance of safety!” says Bethany Corbin.
For more information please contact:
Head Educational Director