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Alarming New Survey Reports 57% Of American Teens Know Friends Who Have Experienced Physical, Sexual Or Verbal Abuse In Dating Relationships

73% of teens say that physical violence in dating is a serious issue;
yet teens have few places to turn for support

In response, unprecedented national high school curriculum will be launched to help kids recognize abuse, learn how to get assistance and ultimately stop the shocking trend of dating violence and abuse among teens

Washington, DC-June 9, 2005-A new survey on teens and dating released today details unparalleled, disturbing patterns of verbal, physical and sexual abuse among teens in dating relationships. The extent of teen dating abuse revealed in the survey has mobilized some of the country's leading education, domestic violence and teen experts to collaborate with corporate and public policy leaders on developing a new high school curriculum that can help teens prevent and deal with abuse in their lives.

The survey was conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU) and commissioned by Liz Claiborne Inc. Teens surveyed ranged in age from 13-18. Reports of abuse extend across suburbs, cities and regions and all ethnic groups. The findings convey a compelling call for help from an overwhelming majority of teens who state that physical and verbal abuse is a serious issue for them.

Key findings:

  • 1 in 3 teenagers report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, choked or physically hurt by their partner
  • Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend had threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a break-up
  • 13% of teenage girls who said they have been in a relationship report being physically hurt or hit
  • 1 in 4 teenage girls who have been in relationships reveal they have been pressured to perform oral sex or engage in intercourse
  • More than 1 in 4 teenage girls in a relationship (26%) report enduring repeated verbal abuse
  • 80% of teens regard verbal abuse as a "serious issue" for their age group
  • If trapped in an abusive relationship, 73% said they would turn to a friend for help; but only 33% who have been in or known about an abusive relationship said they have told anyone about it

Love is Not Abuse Curriculum

In response to the prevalence of teen dating abuse and the importance of the issue cited by teens themselves, a group of educators, domestic violence experts, government officials, medical professionals and corporate leaders have come together to create a national high school curriculum, the Love Is Not Abuse Curriculum, designed specifically to educate and provide support and guidance to teens.

Working with the Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), these advisors, who are members of the Liz Claiborne Inc. Advisory Board on Teenage Dating Violence and Abuse, will develop a targeted effort to educate teens on how to prevent and deal with the growing incidences of physical and verbal abuse and sexual pressure Editors Note:  Love is Not Abuse has free, downloadable booklets for teens (boys and girls) and parents.  They are available in English and Spanish.  I urge you make these available to your teens, even if you don't think they have a problem - they may know someone who does. 

 within their age group. The Love Is Not Abuse Curriculum is designed to reach 9th grade students (fourteen and fifteen year olds), and help them recognize, respond to and seek help for victims suffering relationship abuse. Liz Claiborne Inc. is funding and helping to guide the overall effort, as part of its Love Is Not Abuse program, which for the past 14 years has focused on raising awareness of and ultimately ending relationship violence.

"The sheer number of teens impacted by domestic violence issues is shocking, and our company wants to reach out to these kids right now so that they have the resources to deal with this issue as they enter adulthood," says Jane Randel, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Liz Claiborne Inc. "Our hope is that this curriculum will help educate teens on how to identify all forms of relationship abuse and understand what types of actions are and are not acceptable in a healthy dating relationship."

EDC is developing the three-lesson teenage dating violence curriculum. The lessons are designed to be taught in health education and/or English language arts classes, drawing on brief, engaging literary texts (poetry, short stories) to build awareness of how to make healthy choices in relationships.

The goals of the Love Is Not Abuse Curriculum are to:

  • Increase students' awareness of and knowledge about teenage dating violence
  • Enable students to challenge beliefs that support teenage dating violence
  • Increase help-seeking behavior among students involved in dating relationships that include violence

The curriculum will contain detailed background information for teachers on the scope of the teenage dating violence problem and strategies for responding to students who disclose being in an abusive situation. Break the Cycle, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to engage, educate and empower youth to build lives and communities free from dating and domestic violence, will also work closely with EDC in helping to shape the curriculum and acting as a resource for students or teachers who are themselves dealing with an abusive situation, or need advice on how to help a friend/student.

"It is clear that dating violence is a critical problem facing youth in America and there seems to be a lack of focus on addressing this issue in our educational system nationwide," explained Christine Blaber, Associate Director of the Center for School and Community Health Programs at Education Development Center, Inc., and Project Director. "Our goal is to create a dynamic initiative that will be easily incorporated into the school day to help teenagers name it, understand it, provide resources and suggestions about what to do when it arises, and ultimately help stop its growth."

The Love Is Not Abuse Curriculum will be piloted this fall in the following schools:

  • Herbert Hoover High School, San Diego, CA
  • Furness High School, Philadelphia, PA
  • Wilson High School, Tacoma, WA
  • Oakland Alternative School, Tacoma, WA
  • Lakes High School, Lakeland, WA
  • Sentinel High School, Pueblo, CO
  • Central High School, Pueblo, CO
  • Newton North High School, Newton, MA
  • Sebring High School, Sebring, FL

Liz Claiborne Inc. Advisory Board on Teenage Dating Violence and Abuse:

Elaine Alpert, MD, MPH
Author, Advocate for Domestic Violence Prevention
Boston University School
of Public Health

Boston, Massachusetts

Jessica Aronoff
Executive Director
Los Angeles, California

Nicole Avey
Safe Place
Austin, Texas

Sarah Buel
Clinical Professor of Law
University of Texas School of Law
Austin, Texas

Agnes Chang
Director of Outreach and Program Development
The Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence
Boston, Massachusetts

Ivette Marie Diaz
Safe Horizon
Bronx, New York

Erika Eckstrom
Break the Cycle
Washington, DC

Carrie Epstein, LCSW-R
Senior Director, Child Trauma Programs and Clinical Support
Safe Horizon
New York, NY

Lucy Friedman, PhD
The After-School Corporation
New York, NY

  Reverend Al Miles, Hospital Chaplain
Author, “Ending Violence In Teen Dating Relationships: A Resource Guide For Parents And Pastors”
Honolulu, Hawaii

Senator Patty Murray
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC & Seattle, Washington

Gerald L. Newberry
Executive Director
NEA Health Information Network
Washington, DC

Joseph Radelet, Ed.D.
Vice President, Mentoring Programs
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Philadelphia, PA

Barri Rosenbluth, LMSW-ACP
Director of School-based Services
Safe Place
Austin, Texas

Esta Soler
Family Violence Prevention Fund
San Francisco, California

Oliver J. Williams, PhD
Executive Director
Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rosalind Wiseman
The Empower Program
Author: Queen Bees and Wannabees: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence
Washington, DC

Michael Wood
Vice President
Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU)
Northbrook, IL


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