For many years, the problem of violence in teen relationships was eclipsed by the issue of domestic violence among couples who were married or living together, says the Casey Journalism Center for Children and Families. Studies show that women between 16 and 24 are more likely than women in any other age group to suffer physical abuse from a romantic partner. Sixteen of every 1,000 women in this age group are victims of dating violence, says the U.S. Justice Department, compared with six out of every 1,000 women overall. Much violence remains unreported.
“We think less than half of battered women report,” said Jill Morris of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “For teens, it’s even less than that. We are just starting to see teens come forward and ask for help.” This year, a survey of boys and girls 13 to 18 sponsored by Liz Claiborne, Inc. and conducted by the Illinois-based Teenage Research Unlimited found 13 percent of teen girls reported being hit or physically hurt in a dating relationship; one in five said their boyfriends had threatened to harm themselves or someone else if the girl tried to break off the relationship. Thirty percent of boys and girls surveyed said they knew a teen who had been physically hurt by a partner.