By Alegra Roybal, CSVANW Sexual Violence Project Coordinator
When we think about the issues facing young people, we have to take them seriously. We cannot say that their issues are silly, immature or dramatic. We know this because issues like teen dating violence are serious and are impacting our communities. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found among victims of contact sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, nearly 23% of females and 14% of males first experienced some form of violence by that partner before age 18. These are astronomical numbers considering how seriously we now take intimate partner violence in our country. This isn’t about drama or about puppy love between two teenagers; this is about trauma and the potential for deadly violence.
Unfortunately, social media has allowed teen dating violence to flourish. According to some reports, approximately 81% of teens have some sort of online presence (www.njep.org). We all know a young person that has an Instagram, a Facebook, Snapchat, or some other social media platform that we don’t even know about yet! We must recognize that these are important for so many young people and it allows them to express themselves, be creative, learn from each other and connect with others around the world. It also allows violence to occur.
When it comes to teen dating violence, social media can be used for revenge porn, stalking, threats and many more things that we may not even understand. Does that mean teens shouldn’t be allowed to have access to social media? Not necessarily. It does mean we need to have these conversations with our young people and create brave spaces for them to come forward if they are being attacked by their partner on social media. What else can we do to support teens who are in violent relationships on social media?
Please share with us what has worked in your community!