Abuse among teens is called widespread

July 09, 2008|By Matthew Hay Brown | Matthew Hay Brown,Sun reporter

WASHINGTON - One in five young teenagers knows a friend who has been physically abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend, and 40 percent of children ages 11 and 12 say a friend has suffered verbal abuse in a relationship, according to the results of a national survey released yesterday.

Armed with those numbers, Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said he would meet with state officials about educating students in middle school and high school about dating violence.

"What we're trying to do here is awareness," said Gansler, a Democrat, who spoke of reaching both potential victims and would-be abusers. "These are the people who become the hard-core domestic violence defendants later on."

The effort is part of a push by the National Association of Attorneys General to mandate education on teen violence in all 50 states. It was inspired by the death of Lindsay Ann Burke, a 23-year-old Rhode Islander murdered by her former boyfriend in 2005.

"Lindsay did not recognize the different forms of abuse in her relationship," her father, Chris Burke, told reporters in Washington.

Burke's parents pushed for legislation that requires Rhode Island schools to teach students in the seventh through 12th grades about abusive relationships and establish policies to address incidents. Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch, the president of the National Association of Attorneys General, has taken the effort nationwide.

The poll of more than 1,600 children, ages 11 to 18, and 500 parents, conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, found a higher incidence of abuse against children who had begun having sex by age 14.


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