By Kristy Helscel ’11
While attending a field hockey game at Dublin Scioto High School, junior Tanner McClellan was shocked at what she encountered on her way to the stadium.McClellan found two teens on the verge of physical violence in the parking lot, yelling, cursing, and grabbing at one another.
“My mom was driving and we pulled into the parking lot, and we watched as two cars ripped into the parking lot. The girl got out of her car, the guy jumped out of his, and he ran around his car to her and grabbed her hair,” she said. “I thought he was going to strangle her the way he ran at her, but she was kicking and screaming, also. The girl was almost more dominent in the fight. It wasn’t like the girl was just taking it; she was right back at him.”
Surprised to discover the couple fighting, McClellan said that she and her mom confronted and watched the couple; however, the couple immediately declined any assistance.
“My mom pulled over and asked if everything was OK, which it obviously wasn’t, and the girl yelled at her saying everything was fine,” she said.
According to a recent survey by the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, teen dating violence is becoming more common and more accepted among teens. A U.S. Dept. of Justice report states that one in three teens in a relationship will be a victim of psychological or physical abuse.
On Nov. 11, ABC News’ “What Would You Do?” aired a segment to feature the problem of teenage relationship abuse. To observe how bystanders would react, the show hired actors to pose as a teenage couple on the verge of physical violence in a public park in Saddle Brook, N.J. Like McClellan, bystanders, for the most part, intervened because they said the couple was young and they were looking out for the well-being of the girl. However, those who decided not to intercede said that they felt threatened and did not want to physically put themselves in the middle of the dispute. McClellan said onlookers at Dublin Scioto acted similarly.
“We drove around a few times to make sure nothing happened, and other observers stood around and watched to make sure nothing was going to happen,” McClellan said. “There was nothing we could really do parents [who were watching] didn’t step in between, but circled around.”
Sophomore Emily*, who is also unsure how far to go with intervention, said she is struggling with how to confront one of her friends about the verbally abusive relationship the friend is in with her boyfriend.
“The only way to describe it is that he is degrading her, he doesn’t respect her,” Emily said. “It doesn’t seem like she thinks it is anything. I feel obligated to say something because she is my friend, but I don’t think it’s my place to judge [her boyfriend], but if I see it to be getting worse I will saying something.”
According to the New York Times article, “A Rise in Efforts to Spot Abuse in Youth Dating,” by Elizabeth Olsen, in the event a student is either a part of a verbally or physically abusive relationship or knows a friend who is or has been, evading help may be detrimental. The article referenced several deaths that have occurred from verbal and physical abuse in teenage relationships. Olsen claims a statistical increase in teenage relationship abuse has resulted from increasing usage of technology.
“Although there are no definitive national studies on the prevalence of abuse in adolescent relationships, public health research indicates that the rate of such abusive relationships has hovered around 10 percent,” she said. ” Experts say the abuse appears to be increasing as more harassment, name-calling and ridicule takes place among teenagers on the Internet and by cellphone.”
According to William S. Pollack, a Harvard University psychologist, text numbers ranging from 200 to 300 messages a day can be a prelude to abusive behavior, and oftentimes nonstop texting or phoning are efforts to “gain control back.”
Senior Zheng Che said that though, he does not see teenage relationship abuse often, but he understands how the increasing usage of technology may result in an increase in abuse.
“Most teens have their phones on them all the time and that can lead to excessive texting,” Che said. “And if one person doesn’t like that and starts ignoring the other they could get upset, and that could lead to relationship abuse.”