A troubling new survey reveals that teens (even "tweens") are dating earlier, and are experiencing emotional and sexual abuse in their relationships. Here's one disturbing finding: 37% of 11-12 year-olds say they have had a boyfriend or girlfriend. Yikes!
Tweens and teens in dating relationships are experiencing significant levels of various forms of abuse, many don't know the warning signs of an abusive relationship, and many parents don't know what's going on in those relationships, a new survey says.
Among the findings:
69 percent of all teens who had sex by age 14 said they have gone through one or more types of abuse in a relationship.
40 percent of the youngest tweens, those between the ages of 11 and 12, report that their friends are victims of verbal abuse in relationships, and nearly one-in-ten (9 percent) say their friends have had sex.
Nearly three-in-four tweens (72 percent) say boyfriend/girlfriend relationships usually begin at age 14 or younger.
More than one-in-three 11-12 year olds (37percent) say they have been in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.
One-in-five between the ages of 13 and 14 say their friends are victims of dating violence, such as getting struck, hit or slapped by a boyfriend or girlfriend, and nearly half of all tweens in relationships say they know friends who are verbally abused.
One-in-five 13-14 year olds in relationships (20 percent) say they know friends and peers who've been struck in anger (kicked, hit, slapped, or punched) by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
In addition, significant numbers of teens (15-18) are experiencing emotional and mental abuse as well as violence when dating; it's even more prevalent among teens who've had sex by 14.
The survey, which was commissioned by Liz Claiborne Inc. and loveisrespect.org, was conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited. Loveisrespect.org operates the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline.