Twenty-six percent of teens involved in a romantic relationship are abused by their partner via cell phones or social-media platforms, says a new Urban Institute study reported by the Orlando Sentinel. With more than 5,600 respondents, the report is the most comprehensive study of its kind, and it comes as Harbor House — Orange County's domestic violence shelter and prevention agency — prepares to hold its second annual Teen Summit Saturday to educate young people about dating violence.
Harbor House CEO Carol Wick says, "Now, people carry their phones with them all the time, so there's an expectation that there will be an instantaneous response. If that person is jealous anyway, that jealousy tends to grow." The problem is worse for girls than boys, especially when the abuse is sexual. About 15 percent of girls reported being sexually harassed by such means, compared to 7 percent of the boys surveyed. The study, funded by the U.S. Justice Department, found that such abuse in a relationship rarely happens in isolation: 84 percent of teens who report digital abuse say they were also psychologically abused by their partners, 52 percent say they were also physically abused and 33 percent say they were also sexually coerced. "New technologies — social networking sites, texts, cell phones and emails — have given abusers another way to control, degrade and frighten their partners," Urban Institute researcher Janine Zweig said.