The Texas Council on Family Violence and the Texas Attorney General's office recently conducted a study of dating violence among young people. What they found was rather troubling. The survey showed that among young people aged 16-24, 20% have experienced verbal violence, 25% have experienced physical violence, and 20% have experienced sexual violence. Overall, nearly half have experienced daing violence, either as the victim or the abuser.
Attorney General Greg Abbott said, "Dating violence is a pervasive problem that affects young Texans of all ethnic and educational backgrounds. It is imperative that we prevent further teens and young adults from having these experiences while offering help and solutions to those who are currently in unhealthy or dangerous situations." A public awareness campaign has been launched called Red Flags. It seeks to teach youth to deal with the early warning signs of dating violence before they escalate.
It is bad enough when adults engage in domestic violence, and absolutely apalling that youngsters are now following suit. What are these kids being taught by their parents? I remember the only advice my father ever gave me about dating. He said, "If you're going to date a girl, then treat her right. If you can't treat her right, get the hell out of the way and let her date someone who will." This advice stuck, because he not only preached this message, he modeled it.
With the advent of rising adult domestic violence, I guess we shouldn't be surprised that young people would follow their example. After all, we learn most of our behavior from our parents. I hope the awareness program helps, but the best thing would be to have more really good parents. Somehow, we have got to convice our children [and adults] that violence is unacceptable - whether it is physical or verbal. Our society depends on it.