Tweens and teens in dating relationships are experiencing significant levels of various forms of abuse, many don't know the warning signs of an abusive relationship, and many parents don't know what's going on in those relationships, a new survey says.
Among the findings:
In addition, significant numbers of teens (15-18) are experiencing emotional and mental abuse as well as violence when dating; it's even more prevalent among teens who've had sex by 14.
And many teens and tweens say they've been victims of technological abuse, in which cell phones, paging, IMs, social networking sites, etc. were used to carry out the abuse.
The survey, which was commissioned by Liz Claiborne Inc. and loveisrespect.org, was conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited. Loveisrespect.org operates the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline.
"We were surprised at how many tweens or kids ages 11 and 12 are dealing with these issues," Liz Claiborne Vice President Jane Randel told Early Show national correspondent Tracy Smith.
What's behind it all? Researchers believe early sexual activity tends to fuel dating violence among teens and tweens, Smith reports.
And Randel points out that, "Parents, while they think they know what their teens or, more importantly, tweens relationships are, they're really not fully aware of what's going on. And that's scary."
Experts say programs are needed to help parents and their kids recognize unhealthy relationships, and to stop them before they start.
Concerned by the trend toward abusive tween and teen dating, the National Association of Attorneys General passed a resolution urging states to establish educational programs on teen dating violence and abuse.
The move was spearheaded by Patrick Lynch, Rhode Island's attorney general, who told co-anchor Russ Mitchell on The Early Show Tuesday that the numbers in the survey are "absolutely alarming."
He said young people need to be made aware of "these horrors" so the "violence not only doesn't occur at that level, but isn't perpetuated in generations to come."
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