Teen abuse increasing in frequency

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 11, 2008

Adolescents from abusive homes run a much higher risk of substance abuse, suicide or running away.

The trauma continues through adulthood.

Many men in prison — some estimates place the figure as high as 90 percent — were abused or witnessed abuse in the home while growing up.

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Even children who break the pattern and don’t grow up to be violent themselves suffer terribly. Teenagers exposed to violence, especially in the home, are more likely to become depressed or hopeless.

Violence witnessed in the home greatly affected their outlook on life and carried a strong association with depression and emotional distress.

A home is supposed to be a refuge, a haven from the threats of the outside world. Yet it is the second most violent institution in American society, second only to the military in times of war.

A chilling “new” form of domestic violence is beginning to surface, though there is every sign that it has been around for years — violence that occurs during a dating relationship.

It occurs at an alarming rate among adolescent couples, with some experts estimating that between 20 and 30 percent of teenage dating couples experience violence.

Violence between couples who are not married or living together manifests in all the same forms as violence between spouses, with one exception.

Rape and other sexual abuse is much more common, or at least more frequently reported, among dating couples.

Violence is a special problem among teenage couples. Teenage abuse victims may also have a more difficult time getting free of an abusive relationship because they have knowledge of available resources.

They may find police and school counselors to be unresponsive or intimidating.

At the Southwest Mississippi Mental Health Complex Alcohol and Drug Office we have solutions for problems with substance and anger.

Carolene Britt is a counselor at Southwest Mississippi Mental Health Complex. She can be reached at 601-446-6634 or at 200 S. Wall St., Natchez.