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Advocates Warn About Teen Dating Violence

By Daniel Cherry | Published 14 Feb 2013 06:59pm | comments
Nearly four in ten teens have experienced either physical or sexual dating violence, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports, some are getting out the word to Mississippi teens, love isn't supposed to hurt.
 
When Kathy Paulk was 15, an acquaintance offered her a ride home from a party. Instead of taking her home, he locked the doors and forced himself on her. Paulk says that can be hard to comprehend for a young woman.
 
"You almost feel flattered by the attention, but it's not...it's a deception. You think, 'Well they must really think you're great', but it's a deception."
 
Teen dating violence can be a silent problem, but those like Heather Wagner, Director of the Domestic Violence Division of the Mississippi Attorney General's Office, say it's a bigger problem than many think. In a previous interview Wagner told MPB News, the violence isn't always easy to spot.
 
"We hear from a lot of girls that are experiencing the extreme possessiveness from their boyfriend."
 
And Wagner says teen dating violence often grows up into domestic violence.
 
"Violence in relationships doesn't start once somebody turns 18. It starts in the teen, preteen when the first start dating."
 
February is teen dating violence awareness month, and those working to expose violence are educating teens about healthy relationships. Eva Jones is an anti violence advocate and says this should be a year-round effort.
 
"Do this more often, not wait until February, do this February, March, April, May, throughout the whole year. Do education, watch your children more, talk to your children more."
 
And experts do say, parents who are good examples of healthy relationships and have open lines of communication with their teens are the best way to prevent dangerous relationships.

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