By Jessica Ayala
Teen dating violence (TDV) is a pattern of behavior that includes physical, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse by one person in an intimate relationship to exert power and control over another. In Laredo, Texas teenage dating violence has become more common, and often times has been reported as life threatening to teenagers ages 13-19 years old. In local high schools, approximately 1 in 5 female students reports being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
Teen dating violence runs across gender, race, and social economic lines. Both males and female are victims of TDV, but males and females are abused in different ways. After conducting a survey at a UISD High School it caught my attention that the majority of students believe TDV exist within the teen community.
After speaking to J.W. Nixon High School guidance counselor Sylvia S. Dominguez, I was able to gather further information on this delicate topic. “This topic is very common in today’s youth; we see a great deal of TDV cases every year,” said Dominguez. “TDV also occurs in the lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender teen community as well.”
Studies found higher rates of TDV in low social economic status groups, locally that has been a great factor. Many local victims feel that it is acceptable to tolerate violent behavior due to what has been seen at home. “The majority of victims tolerate abuse because they are scared of losing partner and occasionally financial support,” said Dominguez
Shifting attitudes about teen dating violence and raising awareness is critical to preventing future abuse. Teen dating violence has been shown to be linked to an abundance of unhealthy behaviors. Violence among adolescents increases risk of substance use, unhealthy weight control behaviors, sexual risk behaviors, pregnancy, and suicide.
It is important that we become aware of the services and counseling offered to teen victims in the Laredo community. Casa de Misericordia offers help to victims of any type of domestic abuse, as well as a confidential 24-hour hotline. School guidance counselors are also available to help with TDV cases even if it occurs off campus. Teen dating violence is preventable and it is important that teens become educated and speak up.