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Old 08-28-2006, 11:32 PM   #1
chumdawg
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Default "Red Flags" against dating violence - opinions, please

A student of mine is working for the DMN this semester as part of their Classroom Voices segment. She's a senior at Nimitz High School. Each week her editor gives her a topic to write a little blurb about; the exercise is called "Sounding Off." Here is this week's topic. I would appreciate your opinions on the matter.

Texas Council on Family Violence and Attorney General Release Survey Results:

75 Percent of Young Texans Affected by Dating Violence

"Red Flags" campaign to highlight early warning signs, prevent further incidence

AUSTIN, Texas - August 28, 2006.
The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today released results from the first-ever statewide survey on dating violence among teens and young adults. Findings show that three out of four 16- to 24-year-old Texans have personally experienced dating violence or know someone who has.

The survey polled more than 900 young Texans on their attitudes toward and experiences with dating violence behaviors, ranging from controlling actions to physical harm. Fifty percent reported having personally experienced dating violence, whether as the target or abuser. Two out of five teens and young adults said they've experienced verbal abuse, one out of four reported physical violence, and one out of five reported sexual violence.

To tackle this problem and educate young Texans about the characteristics of healthy relationships, TCFV also launched a public awareness project today called "Red Flags." The project is funded by the Office of the Texas Attorney General and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Through online and community outreach, Red Flags will deliver the messages of "Control Isn't Love" and "Red Flags: Know When to Raise Them" to youth in five target cities - Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio.

The project will reach out to both males and females. According to survey results, three out of five young Texas females and two out of five young males have personally experienced dating violence (again, whether as the target or abuser).

"Dating violence is a pervasive problem that affects young Texans of all ethnic and educational backgrounds. It is imperative that we prevent further teens and young adults from having these experiences while offering help and solutions to those who are currently in unhealthy or dangerous situations," said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Research found that young Texans are much more likely to be "scared by" or "worried" about more tangible behaviors like explosive temper or physical harm. They were more likely to rate things like controlling a person's actions or exhibiting jealousy as making them "nervous" or "uncomfortable." Red Flags will concentrate most on teaching youth to listen to their instincts and deal with the early warning signs of dating violence - the "red flags" that indicate trouble - before they escalate into more severe abuse.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline, operated by TCFV in its Austin office, receives the largest percentage of its calls from 25- to 34-year-olds who are experiencing domestic violence. However, advocates are trained to counsel victims on dating violence and create safety plans on how to leave the relationship, if need be.

"With Red Flags, we hope to reach young Texans at a critical period in their dating lives, helping them learn to distinguish healthy behaviors from more dangerous ones so they, hopefully, never need to call us," said Sheryl Cates, Chief Executive Officer of the Texas Council on Family Violence and the National Domestic Violence Hotline. "This is the time to learn how to make the best choices in relationships because family and financial commitments can later make it harder for people to break free from violent relationships."

In addition to reaching out to current and potential victims of abuse, the Red Flags project is designed to give young Texans guidance in having more constructive dialogue with friends who may be experiencing dating violence. Research shows three out of four teens and young adults who've personally experienced dating violence report having told someone what happened. They most commonly said they'd turn to friends first, followed by parents or guardians. When asked what they'd do if a peer told them about a dating violence problem, 42 percent said they'd advise them to break up with their partner. However, dating partners can often turn more violent when a relationship ends.

The Red Flags Web site, www.knowtheredflags.com, is full of relationship quizzes, warning signs, advice and scenarios designed to guide teens and young adults in discussing dating violence issues and making safe plans for dealing with or leaving unhealthy relationships. The site also aims to educate young Texans about healthy behaviors like being honest with each other, trusting each other when apart, and feeling safe to express feelings - which survey respondents rated as their top three most valued characteristics in a relationship. TCFV will direct traffic to the site through outreach on MySpace and other online channels, at events, and through youth outreach with its community partners in the project's target cities.

"The survey results, along with qualitative data gathered from youth statewide, have shown us that young Texans want very serious, mature and detailed information about dating violence so they can get help and lend help. They've also indicated that online and peer-to-peer methods of receiving information are effective given the complex subject matter," said Cates. "Red Flags is designed uniquely for Texas youth, and we're excited about this step in ultimately making our state a kinder and safer place."

Data for the statewide survey was conducted on behalf of TCFV by GCI Read-Poland and Equation Research. All respondents were unmarried and between the ages of 16 and 24. Respondents were randomly drawn to reflect a sample representative of the Texas population. The "Red Flags" brand and project materials were created by Austin communication firms GCI Read-Poland, White Hat Creative and Action Figure.

About Texas Council on Family Violence
As the state coalition against domestic violence, the Texas Council on Family Violence has been the voice of the movement against domestic violence in Texas and a national leader in the work to end domestic violence since 1978. TCFV provides public education, training and technical assistance, advocacy and public policy advocacy on the issue of domestic violence in Texas. As a statewide coalition, TCFV members include domestic violence service providers, criminal justice personnel and allied professionals. Additionally, TCFV operates the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which is the only toll-free, 24-hour hotline providing crisis intervention and connecting victims of domestic violence to more than 5,000 domestic violence service providers across the nation. TCFV is a nonprofit organization funded by both private and public sources.

# # #

Statewide Dating Violence Survey
Executive Summary
Introduction

This report presents the results of a research study conducted on behalf of the Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) by GCI Group and Equation Research in March 2006 to quantify the problem of dating violence among 16- to 24-year-old Texans.



TCFV's objectives were to measure dating violence incidence levels, to gauge attitudes and behaviors toward dating violence, and to survey overall dating habits and opinions about relationships.

Data was collected from a statewide online survey of 918 respondents. All respondents were unmarried and between the ages of 16 and 24. Respondents were randomly chosen to reflect a demographic sample representative of the Texas population.

Respondent Demographics
Fifty-one percent of respondents were male and 49 percent were female. The majority were Caucasian (76 percent), with the rest either being Hispanic, African-American or another race. Ninety-four percent of respondents identified themselves as heterosexual. The majority were current high school or college students, with the rest identifying as high school or college graduates. Weighting results to account for any slight over- or under-sampling of ethnic groups or geographic areas had no statistically significant effect on findings.

Dating Violence Defined
In findings, the term "dating violence" refers to a list of verbal, physical and sexual behaviors including but not limited to: telling a dating partner what to do or how to act; embarrassing a partner in public; kissing or touching a partner when it's not wanted; yelling and screaming; threatening to harm a dating partner; pushing, shoving or slapping; and forcing a partner to do something sexual.

For all questions measuring incidence of and attitudes and behaviors toward dating violence, respondents were presented with a complete list of dating violence behaviors. The list was randomized rather than presented in any perceived order of severity.

Respondents were asked if these dating violence behaviors had happened, period, rather than being specifically asked whether they had been the perpetrator or victim.

Incidence Levels
Dating violence is a pervasive problem among Texas teens and young adults. Approximately 75 percent of respondents have experienced dating violence or know someone who has. One in two report having personally experienced dating violence. Forty-one percent said they'd experienced verbal abuse, 27 percent reported having an experience with physical violence and 19 percent said they'd experienced sexual violence.

Females were more likely than males to have experienced dating violence (60 percent v. 40 percent, respectively). Among females, 49 percent have experienced verbal abuse, 33 have experienced physical violence and 33 percent have experienced sexual violence. Thirty-three percent of males have experienced verbal abuse, 22 percent have experienced physical violence and 6 percent have experienced sexual violence.

While there are some smaller differences in incidence levels or attitudes among various demographic and psychographic groups, dating violence cuts across all ages, races and other demographic lines. Dating violence was seen to be more prevalent among older respondents (18- to 24-year-olds), bisexuals and those who had reported witnessing a parent/guardian's dating violence behavior.

Hispanics were also more likely than non-Hispanics to have experienced physical or sexual violence (35 v. 26 percent for physical, 26 percent v. 18 percent for sexual). Those Texans living in the state's largest cities (Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio) were more likely to have experienced sexual violence than those living in other parts of the state (22 percent v. 14 percent), with Austin residents reporting the highest incidence levels (35 percent).

Reporting
The majority of Texans (74 percent) reported having told someone about their dating violence experience(s). Those who've kept quiet cite shame or embarrassment as the most common reason for not telling anyone, followed by fear of the relationship ending, fear of authorities becoming involved and fear that family would intervene and keep the couple apart.

When respondents were asked about who they thought they'd first tell about a dating violence experience, a parent/guardian was the most popular choice, followed by a friend. However, those who've actually experienced dating violence reported having told a friend first, with a parent/guardian being the second-most common confidante.

Peer Help
Respondents who said they knew of dating violence happening in a peer's relationship said they most commonly saw the behavior happening or were told about it by the victim (43 percent and 29 percent, respectively). When asked what they would do first if they learned a peer was experiencing dating violence, 43 percent said they'd tell the friend to break up with the abusive partner, and the second most common choice was to tell a family member (27 percent).

Forty-two percent of respondents reported having seen or heard a parent/guardian's domestic violence experience(s).

Behaviors & Healthy Relationships
The more tangible a behavior is, the more likely it is to scare young Texans rather than merely making them uncomfortable or nervous. When surveyed about their levels of concern toward each possible dating violence behavior, actions like causing physical harm were much more likely to worry or scare people than controlling someone's actions or acting extremely jealous. In general, respondents were more worried about dating violence happening to their peers than in their own relationships.

Respondents also identified the top three characteristics of a healthy relationship: honesty, trusting each other when you're apart and feeling safe to express feelings.

Online & Dating Habits
A large percentage of respondents reported making friends easily online (46 percent) with a significant percentage eventually meeting someone in person whom they'd become acquainted with online (29 percent). Respondents who had personally experienced dating violence were more likely to report making friends easily online, meeting friends in person after becoming acquainted online and other behaviors such as dating someone after meeting online and exchanging personal information like phone numbers and home addresses.

Most respondents began dating in their teens, with the average age being 15. Respondents who began dating at age 13 or 14 were significantly more likely to have personally experienced dating violence than those who started dating at a later age.

Conclusion
Research results point to a need for education about what kinds of behaviors constitute dating violence, why early warning signs like control and jealousy should cause worry rather than mere discomfort, how the problem escalates and why "just break up" is not always the most constructive advice for a peer who's being abused. With such a high level of dating violence incidence and reporting, there is less of a need to educate young Texans about the general existence of the problem.

Educational messaging should be directed toward both males and females, counteracting the stereotype that dating violence is a "women's issue." Results indicate a need to speak to young Texans about their own relationships and those of their friends. While some messages should be reinforced more among various demographic groups according to research results, dating violence is such a pervasive problem that all young Texans will benefit equally from broad and comprehensive education efforts.

Any educational campaign should favor mediums that allow for more complex messages. Higher levels of online-driven social encounters among those who've personally experienced dating violence point to an opportunity to deliver messages through online mediums.
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