occurs in one out of four families in the United States. Young
people are confronted with the threat and the stark reality of
violence in their schools, on their streets, and all too often,
in their homes. Violence is a manifestation of other, equally
disturbing problems among children, youth and families, among
them, the increasing number of out-of-wedlock and teen births.
shame and stigma often associated with victimization make it difficult
to identify individuals imminently at risk and provide the necessary
support, counseling, education and referral. This underscores
the need to address these issues in a direct and practical manner
for all young people. Programs and services should convey that
violence and victimization are not acceptable or permissible and
promote personal skill development in refusal, coping and assertiveness.
Young women need to feel confident in their ability to both resolve
conflicts and to protect themselves.
and family support programs offer services in local communities
that strengthen families to help parents better nuture and support
their children, and prevent family violence, substance abuse and
teen pregnancy. A range of violence prevention plans-in schools,
on the streets to and from school, in individual neighborhoods-are
necessary to protect children and youth. Positive youth activities
after school, on weekends and during the summer provide safe,
structured alternatives to the streets, and to a variety of risk-associated
prevention efforts must be the work of the total community-education,
health, business, human services, clergy. If the community does
not value, protect, care for and include its children, neglect
and alienation may drive them to seek out acceptance and affiliation
in counterproductive ways, such as joining gangs, initiating sexual
behavior at an early age, or even becoming sexually promiscuous.
primary cause of injury to women is partner battery. In the United
States, a woman is beaten by her husband or boyfriend every 18
seconds. One in four teenage girls becomes involved in a physically
or sexually abusive relationship. The best prevention is education,
promoting recognition of the stages in the "cycle of violence"
-honeymoon to tension to explosion.
pregnant teenagers have histories of physical abuse. Studies have
shown that children who have been physically assaulted are at
higher risk of developing aggressive behavior. As parents, people
with a history of maltreatment are six times more likely than
the general population to abuse their own children- a manifestation
of the generational "cycle of violence." Educating teens
offers hope for those in abusive families that they can "break
often, young people in dating relationships demonstrate controlling
and manipulative behaviors. This may indicate serious and potentially
dangerous problems for both young people in the relationship.
At the least, their academic progress and success in school will
be compromised. At the worst, the situation could be lethal.
60 percent of students involved in dating violence come from violent
families. Stress, alcohol and other drug abuse, social and age
inequality between teen partners, dating frequency, low family
incomes and poor interpersonal communication skills are other
risk factors identified in abusive relationships. Nonconsensual
sexual intercourse between people who are acquainted with each
other or are dating is the most common type of rape, accounting
for 70 to 80 percent of rape crisis center contacts. Acquaintance
rape involves the use of physical force, emotional bargaining,
blackmail or mind games to force sexual intercourse.
one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually assaulted before
the age of 18. Studies of pregnant adolescents indicate an even
higher rate of sexual victimization with as many as half to two-thirds
reporting sexual abuse histories. Sexual abuse survivors are more
likely to participate in activities that increase their risk of
unintended pregnancy. Not surprisingly, they often begin voluntary
sexual relationships earlier and have sex more often. Thus, they
are more likely to become pregnant before age 18 than are their
intentionally become pregnant to escape abuse. Pregnant teens
are often described as having low self-efficacy and self-esteem,
as well as feelings of powerlessness and alienation. These risk
factors overlap with those for child sexual abuse, as well as
other forms of victimization. It seems that sexual victimization
eradicates the very skills needed to make appropriate decisions
and take action to prevent negative sexual outcomes. This is an
important consideration in planning programs and services for
the teenage population.
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