Teens face an alarming rate of violence in relationships and it is often not disclosed by the teens or observed by others.  As you will see from Traci’s statistics below, the rates are over 50% of teens experiencing dating violence and sexual coercion. 
A study by Gale Spencer and Sharon Bryant in 2000 analyzed the difference in teen dating violence in rural, suburban, and urban settings. Their study found that teens in rural districts were more likely to be victims of dating violence than their suburban and urban counterparts, with female teens at greatest risk.  It is also apparent in analysis of the research and articles, that teen dating violence and sexual coercion among teens is less likely to be studied in the rural South, despite studies showing that the rural areas and rural areas in the south are more likely to have incidents of teen dating violence and sexual coercion. Rickert, Wiemann, and Vaughan in their study through the Center for Community Health and Education at Columbia University found that teens who were verbally coerced into sex were less likely (only 47%) to tell another person while 60% of teens who experienced rape/attempted rape were more likely to tell another person. Shorter dating periods and the use of alcohol were predictors of disclosure as well.  Meaning the shorter the time the teens were dating, the more likely the adolescent victim of sexual assault is to tell someone and the longer the teens were dating, the less likely the adolescent victim is to tell when violence enters the relationship.
The Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life and the Chesterfield County Coordinating Council produced a study in their community of dating violence in middle and high schools. They found correlation between the perpetrator knowing the victim, substance use, attitudes toward violence, acceptability of violence-related behaviors and grade level.  Additionally, another study by the Center for Studies in Criminology and Law found numerous risk factors associated with dating violence and sexual coercion.  They found that risk taking behaviors mediated the effects of social ties and emotional states on the likelihood of violent victimization in adolescent dating relationships and lend support for theories regarding the relationship between lifestyles and violence in dating relationships. Science Daily and the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine reported that dating violence and histories of sexual assault among urban teens may be associated with suicide attempts. Childhood sexual assault has been linked with depression, alcohol use and violence, also linking to risk factors for suicide attempts. The authors write that dating violence and sexual coercion/assault is associated with depressive symptoms and multiple health-compromising behaviors.
In support of these statistics regarding the high rate of violence in teen dating relationships, the Department of Community Health Sciences at Boston University School of Public Health and the Division of Adolescent Medicine, the Department of Pediatrics, the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center studied the type and amount of parents communication to children and teens about dating violence. They found that only fifty-five percent of parents had discussed dating violence and sexual coercion with their children. Mothers were found to be more likely than fathers to discuss this issue.
Conclusion: That programs are needed to equip parents to talk with children and teens about dating violence and sexual coercion are needed.
In the Rappahannock Area of Virginia, Contact the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault to schedule a prevention/education program for your school or youth-serving agency call 540-371-6771.