February 27, 2012

Breaking The Clear Pattern

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

In a survey released in December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 69 percent of female and 53 percent of male victims of violence at the hands of a significant other experienced some form of this type of violence for the first time when they were young.  Early intervention is critical to stopping violence in youth relationships before it starts and breaking the pattern of violence that can carry on into adult relationships. 

Relationships significantly shape teenagers' emotional growth.  Healthy relationships influence positive emotional development, while abusive relationships cause long-term negative impacts.  The CDC has found that victims of teen dating violence are more likely to do poorly in school, and report binge drinking, suicide attempts and fighting, and victims may also carry the patterns of violence into future relationships.  Focus on preventing and interrupting teen dating violence is instrumental in stopping this violence when it starts.

On January 31, 2012, by Unanimous Consent the Senate passed S.Res.362, which I introduced with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), to designate February 2012 as "National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month."  Throughout the month and year, people are coming together to help bring attention to this issue and advance prevention and crisis intervention.  Together, we can continue to make progress.  Increased awareness, education, dedication of necessary resources and training will help ensure that the signs of abuse will not be overlooked and the violence will stop, and stop early. 

Otherwise, the lasting effects of this violence will continue to negatively impact lives.  In addition to finding a likelihood of being victims in future acts of violence, the CDC found that men and women who experience these forms of violence were more likely to report frequent headaches, chronic pain, difficulty with sleeping, activity limitation, poor physical health and poor mental health than men and women who did not experience these forms of violence.  I have been proud to champion legislation, such as reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, that has helped victims and families in our communities by making substantial progress toward ending domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. 

Enough is enough.  With 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experiencing severe physical violence by an intimate partner, this intolerable level of preventable violence must stop.  Increasing victims' access to help lines and other networks and aiding family members and friends with identifying and reporting abuse can stop future abuse and help victims escape their attackers.  All of our involvement is needed to break the pattern of violence before it takes root in our youth and communities.   

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Word Count:  434