More than one in four kids ... say full-scale sex, or “going all the way,” is part of tween relationships.
( - A new survey reports that a surprising number of young adolescents experience dating violence and abuse, motivating the National Association of Attorneys General to pass a resolution mandating teen dating violence and abuse curriculum in every school.


Beyond that, however, some conservative leaders and psychologists said that more parents need to take the first steps in teaching their children about relationships and in controlling their children’s behavior.


The survey was conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited and commissioned by Liz Claiborne Inc., and the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline. Questions were answered online by “tweens” (ages 11-14), parents of tweens in relationships, and teenagers (ages 15-18). 


“What makes this current study so disturbing is the clear and unexpected finding that dating abuse and violence begins at such a young age,” said Jane Randel, vice president of corporate communications for Liz Claiborne Inc.


The survey found that dating relationships begin much earlier than expected.


Nearly three in four tweens (72 percent) said boyfriend/girlfriend relationships usually begin at age 14 or younger; 37 percent of tweens said they have been in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. More than one in four kids (28 percent) and parents (26 percent) say full-scale sex, or “going all the way,” is part of tween relationships.



The survey also reported surprising levels of abusive behavior among tweens in dating relationships.


Among tweens that have dated, 62 percent say they know friends who have been verbally abused; 41 percent know friends who have been called names, put down, or insulted via cell phone, instant messaging or social networking sites; and 20 percent have been struck in anger by a boyfriend or girlfriend.


Yet only 51 percent of tweens claim to know the warning signs of an abusive relationship.


The results also show a positive correlation between the level of sexual activity and abuse among teens in relationships.


According to the report, 36 percent of all teens reported their partners wanted to know where they were all the time, compared with 58 percent of teens who had sex by age 14; 29 percent of all teens said their boyfriend/girlfriend called them names or put them down, compared to 58 percent of teens who had sex by age 14; and 22 percent said they were pressured to do things they did not want to do, compared to 45 percent of teens who had sex by age 14.


Among the teens who had sex by age 14, 69 percent said they experienced one or more types of abuse in a relationship.


To fight the alarming trend, the National Association of Attorneys General has introduced an unprecedented initiative that ensures all attorneys general strive to incorporate teen dating violence and abuse education into health curricula in middle and high schools.


The Teen Dating Violence Education Resolution was passed unanimously in June.


“We are committed to addressing this issue through education,” said Rhode Island Attorney General Pat Lynch, a sponsor of the resolution. “Abuse and violence in intimate partner relationships not only cause great individual pain, but this destructive behavior also breaks down families, communities and our larger society.” 


Some experts blamed parents for a lack of open discussion concerning abuse in dating relationships.


“I believe the biggest problem is that parents are not doing their job. Parents are not talking to their teens about healthy and responsible sexuality,” said Logan Levkoff, Ph.D., author, and human sexuality expert.


Bill Maier, Psy.D., vice president and psychologist-in-residence at the Colorado Springs-based group Focus on the Family, said that adding dating abuse education to the school curriculum is only a start. The curriculum alone will not be able to address the deeper cultural issues underlying the reasons for violence in relationships.


“It’s putting a band-aid on a huge, gaping wound,” he told Cybercast News Service


The survey points out that many parents are in the dark about their children’s sexual habits. Only 6 percent of parents admit that parents know little or nothing about tweens’ dating relationships, compared to 20 percent of tweens who think the same.


Also, twice as many tweens report having “hooked up” with a partner (17 percent) as parents reported of their own 11-14 year old child (8 percent).


“[Parents] want to be their kid’s best buddy, they want their kids to like them, and so they’re really reluctant to place any form of limits or boundaries on inappropriate behavior,” Maier added.


He noted that the situation is tragic, but added, “Unless we address both the parenting issue and the cultural issue, I don’t really see this changing.”


Cindy Southworth, director of technology at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, thinks education about relationship abuse should begin at a young age.


“In the same way that parents currently tell 5-year-olds that smoking is bad, they need to say that people who love each other shouldn’t hit, punch, kick, hurt each other,” she said.


The survey was administered online to 1,043 tweens, 523 parents, and 626 teens from evenly spread ages, genders, ethnicities, and geographical regions across the United States.


Comment Below:  Have you ever been witness to any type of abuse?  What can we do as outsiders to help?  Is there a way to stop or slow down these high percentages?