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Abuse Common in Teen Relationships [POLL/AUDIO]

Physical, sexual or emotional abuse has been cited by more than a third of teens in dating relationships, according to new data.

Domestic Violence
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Similar numbers claim they’ve been the abusers.

Reinforcing the findings, 2012 statistics show more than half of the cases handled by the National Dating Abuse Helpline involved people ages 13 to 19.

“Teenagers don’t always know how to be in a relationship,” said Dr. Steven Tobias, director of the Center for Child & Family Development in Morristown. “You really have to learn how to be in love. You have to learn how to handle the very intense emotions that these kids of relationships evoke.”

When people don’t know how to deal with their feelings and express them appropriately, Tobias said, the potential for abuse is greater.

Also, with the proliferation of texting and social media, the opportunities and outlets for abuse are multiplied.

“I think it’s much too easy for this generation of kids to say things that are hurtful,” Tobias said.

A healthy relationship among parents would be a solid starting point for teaching a “young lover” how to act and disagree in a romantic partnership. According to Tobias, it’s also important for parents to keep the lines of communication open with their teens; speak to them about what’s okay and what’s not.

As for the abused, Tobias said parents can be on the lookout for teenagers who have suddenly become isolated and are interacting much less with family and friends.

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