Alabama ranks high in the nation for teenage dating violence - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Alabama ranks high in the nation for teenage dating violence

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Alabama tops national charts on teen dating violence.  The Centers for Disease Control reports Alabama's high school students are above the national average on physical abuse or violence at the hands of a significant other.

11.5 % of Alabama high school students have been abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend - compare that to the national average of 9.4 % according to the CDC The growing problem isn't just limited to hitting - or kicking, in fact, the growing method of abuse is often nothing more than a mouse click.

"A couple of years ago, we were ranked second in the nation in the rate of men who murder women," Amanda Carmichael, YWCA Domestic Violence Services Director said. "The dating violence kind of mirrors and follows along with what we're seeing with adults."

Central Alabama violence prevention groups will all tell you, it's not just about slapping a girl, or kicking a boyfriend.  Abuse has gone to a cyber level - meaning public humiliation.

"Repeated texting over and over, posting inappropriate pictures on Facebook, those are tools abusive partners can use to have power and control over their victims," Carmichael said.

Local organizations say movies and songs like "Before He Cheats" and "Bust Your Windows" - are encouraging revenge.  But former Birmingham Police Chief, Annetta Nunn, took that song and is answering with her own music video geared towards students letting the young ladies know exactly what will happen if they're caught.

"Convincing them that they have control over their emotions and that they can make a decision about what to do with their anger or how to handle an issue is critical," Carmichael said.

SafeHouse is also offering prevention and counseling to teenagers across several counties.

"We're seeing physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, sexual harassment,  forced sexual activity," Kathy Wells, Executive Director, SafeHouse Shelby County said.

And here's another surprising statistic: 10.5 % of Alabama high school girls have been physically abused, but over 12 % of boys report that same kind of abuse.

"I think that's a factor of our society and the violence kids are exposed to," Wells said.

Throughout the school year, the YWCA visits classrooms across Jefferson, Blount, and St. Clair counties offering prevention services. Here is a link to their website about violence: http://www.ywcabham.org/DVRes/index.asp

SafeHouse also offers counseling and prevention. Here is a link for more information: http://www.safehouse.org/

 

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