Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month: Schools ill-equipped to respond to problem, finds study

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month: Schools ill-equipped to respond to problem, finds study

Teen dating violence (TDV) has emerged as one of the rapidly growing social and health problems among adolescents. Defined as a pattern of abuse or threat — physical, sexual or verbal — used against a dating partner among teenagers, TDV can affect adolescents from different cultures and groups.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1.5 million high school students experience physical abuse from a dating partner every year. While these numbers are undeniably overwhelming, a new research has revealed another perturbing trend of TDV. The study by researchers from Ball State University has found that majority of the schools do not have set protocols to deal with the cases of TDV on their premises. The study was published in December 2017 in the Violence and Gender journal.

Schools not well prepared to address the problem

The researchers assessed 750 principals from U.S. high schools for their study, sending them a questionnaire that included topics related to teen dating violence. Out of the total, around 54 percent of the principals shared their response. Based on their responses, the researchers surmised that:

1. Approximately 57 percent of the surveyed principals had provided help to a TDV victim in the past two years.

2. Around 76 percent said that their schools lack a protocol to handle any such incidence of teen dating violence.

3. Around 65 percent admitted that the existing violence prevention policy at school fails to handle the problem of dating violence among teens.

4. Nearly 27 percent said that the offenders of TDV at their school are now disciplined.

5. Approximately 62 percent of the responders said that there has been no training provided to the school personnel in the last two years. While, another 68 percent said that they had never received any sort of formal training and were never apprised of issues associated with teen dating violence.

6. A few principals also cited personnel shortage and lack of skills for their inability in offering help to victims of TDV.

The research also found that principals who had a formal training considered this issue as a serious one and were more likely to assist the survivors of TDV.

Not all school principals viewed TDV as a serious problem

Jagdish Khubchandani, a professor of community health education in Ball State’s College of Health, and an author of the study, said that the attitude identified in quite a few school principals signified that they did not consider TDV as a serious problem. About 27 percent of the principals revealed that they had used a method to discipline the perpetrators of teen dating violence. Almost 93 percent of the principals adopted a method of a referral to a counselor in school. Other methods these principals preferred were calling up the parents (85 percent) and notifying the police or legal bodies (74 percent).

The researchers are confident that their findings would be helpful. “We would try to make a school-based protocol and a checklist of things to do and also provide educational material. And we’re also sharing the results with national agencies like the National Association of School Nurses and hope that we can take some positive steps forward,” said Khubchandani.

In the aftermath, TDV could trigger emotional upheavals in victims that might lead to a deterioration of psychological health in them. Anxiety disorder could be an imminent fallout of such violence among teens.

How to deal with TDV

Clearly, even the educators lack awareness as far as TDV is concerned. Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is an annual monthlong effort to make people aware of the issue and the ways to deal with it. It aims to encourage schools, community-based organizations, parents, and teens to work cooperatively to fight against this societal evil and bring about a change.

TDV, or any other form of violence, may lead to trauma. If you know about a victim of violence who might have developed a mental health issue due to it, the Florida Mental Health Helpline can help you in connecting with the best treatment centers in Florida. Call our 24/7 mental health helpline (866) 846-5588 or chat online to know about the comprehensive treatment centers in Florida.

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