America american girls dating violence
One of the hardest tasks I have faced is making decisions in cases that involve victimized youth.I know that judges around the country (many of whom are parents) also are deeply concerned about making the right decision in cases that involve teen survivors.(Throughout this article the pronoun “she” is used, although victims of teen dating violence can be both male and female.As with adult domestic violence, teen dating violence is a gendered phenomenon and there is a substantial overrepresentation of young teen girls who are victims of dating violence.) This February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) will be highlighting the importance of youth victimized through dating violence.
It’s not unusual to find adolescents who display a “lack of respect, verbal abuse, put-downs, involvement of alcohol or drugs and a [general] disregard for privacy,” according to a report from the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs.
For a teen dating violence survivor, the inability to perceive risk as accurately or carefully as adults can also impede separation from an abuser.
In fact, only a little over one-third of teens who were abused ever disclosed their abuse.
A Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence report notes that “Factors such as social expectations, entertainment media messages about relationships, and constant social media engagement can impact how teens individually perceive teen dating relationships and engage in conversations around teen dating violence.” This means that a judge may have to spend time discovering the context in which violence is occurring. We also know that in many cases teens may have an underdeveloped cognitive control system, limiting their ‘stop-and-think’ response.
Crafting a good, meaningful judicial response means learning about a teen’s home life, her school, what they do for fun, her friends and family, and what resources are available in the community. All of this means that teens perceive system involvement differently than adults.