AVA, a leading UK charity, defines teenage relationship abuse as “.…actual or threatened abuse within a romantic relationship or a former relationship. One partner will try to maintain power and control over the other. This abuse can take a number of forms: physical, sexual, financial, emotional or social. This includes coercive and controlling behaviour.”
Interestingly, the definition of domestic violence was amended in 2013 to include people aged 16 and over. However, such kinds of abuse can happen in relationships between young people of any age. And therefore, it is likely that there are students in your school or classroom who may be victims of relationship abuse.
What do the statistics tell us?
According to a study in The Guardian, relationship abuse is just as widespread among teenagers as it is among adults. A study conducted by the NSPCC and the University of Bristol questioned 1,353 young people on violence in their intimate relationships. Respondents were aged between 13 and 17 years old, from eight schools in England, Scotland, and Wales. The highlights of the study are:
- 25% of girls and 18% of boys reported some form of physical abuse
- 11% of girls and 4% of boys reported severe physical violence
- Around 75% of girls and 50% of boys reported some form of violence
- Most commonly reported forms of emotional violence were – being made fun of and constantly being checked up on by a partner
- Girls were more often subjected to overt forms of abuse than boys
- 33% girls and 16% of boys reported some form of sexual violence
- For a minority of respondents, sexual violence was a regular feature of their relationships
The impact on studies
Teenage relationships are often trivialised by adults. They assume that such relationships are not ‘real’ and thus fail to realise the negative impact an abusive relationship can have on teenagers. It can negatively impact their emotional health, mental well-being, and cognitive ability. This, in turn, has an impact on academic performance.
The Home Office released a teachers’ guide regarding teenage relationship abuse. It the warning signs teachers can look out for and makes note of the impact such abuse has on students’ education.
- Being in an abusive relationship can affect a student’s concentration. This leads to less motivation and interest in school activities and studies
- A student may also start being late for school or stop attending altogether, particularly if the abuser also attends the same school
- Likewise, a student in an abusive relationship may start arriving early or staying late to avoid the abuser if they attend different schools
- Unhealthy relationships may cause unwarranted preoccupation and stress, affecting a student’s focus
- They may start shirking their homework or remaining absent without permission
- They may start feeling unsafe and fearful of being stalked by their abuser
- Being in an unhealthy relationship may isolate a student from their peers,
Relationship abuse can also occur online. Advancements in communication technology and increased Internet usage have led to digital abuse. With thousands of adolescents seeking help to deal with such relationships, you might want to get in touch with Securus to safeguard them from virtual manipulation.