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Group looks to teach teens to break up better

Bad breakups are now a major cause of teen violence. According to a 2009 government survey, 25 percent of adolescents report verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse from a dating partner each year - and 10 percent say they've been physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.

But now, a nationwide effort has begun to make teen break-ups better. "Early Show" Contributor and psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein shared a look at Start Strong, an unprecedented $18 million initiative sponsored by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a private foundation that looks to improve health and healthcare for Americans. The goal is to teach teens how to break-up without breaking down.

Many teens aren't prepared for tough break-ups, Hartstein reported. That's why many are at the Teen Breakup Summit, part of a nationwide effort to fight teen violence.

Casey Corcoran, project director of the Start Strong initiative, said, "What we tell teens is, if that you are someone who is committed in a healthy relationship you also need to be committed to having healthy break-ups."

Teens who attended the Start Strong summit said the main lessons they get are from the media - especially from reality TV where MTV hits like "Jersey Shore" and "Teen Mom" provide millions of teens with their only break-up role models.

One teen who attended the summit told CBS News, "I believe a lot of times it's the media that sort of shows people how to handle different types of relationships."

Technology has also transformed the break-up. One recent study by the company that distributes the free texting application textPlus found 30 percent of teens have been dumped via text.

Social media, Hartstein added, can make breaking up into a spectator sport. A simple status change on Facebook can alert everyone in a network of a split.

Corcoran said, "It's now out there for the world to see. And that's really dangerous for teens."

Jamie Ragusa, of Groton, Mass., has seen firsthand what happens when a break up goes out of control. A former schoolmate of hers was stabbed to death, a month after she broke up with her boyfriend. He's been charged with murder.

Ragusa said, "When something like that happens you're losing a part of your family. You're losing someone so close to you."

Now teens who attended the summit want to spread the message that break-ups can be better.

Celeste Henry, of Groton, Mass., said, "There's a time when you know the other person can be extremely hurt and you just have to be considerate of those feelings as much as you can."

On "The Early Show," Hartstein pressed television's influence, saying, "They're not going to the adults in their life to get any other information, so their parents aren't giving them information, other trusted adults aren't talking to them, so they're looking at what they have access to and most of the time that's the reality television."

She added many teens turn to text or e-mail, instead of the phone or in-person communication to break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend.

"We know (face-to-face is) the most effective and best way to have a conversation about (breaking up)," Hartstein said. "Face-to-face (is best) because you get the nonverbal cues and you can understand how people are feeling."

Hartstein advised kids go to parents for help, but noted that kids must feel that they're able to trust adults in their life to not punish them for something they might have done.

"For adults in the kids' lives, they need to be open," she said. "Start a dialogue early. (Parents) need to figure out how to talk to their teens about this stuff. The teens need to think about who can I go to if it's not my mom and dad, who someone older than my friend - who is also 15 or 16 getting the same information - that can give me different information and help me figure out something different."