MONDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- Although dating violence is a recognized problem for U.S. teens, a majority of high school counselors say their school provides no training or guidelines for dealing with abusive romantic relationships, a new study finds.
Prior research has found that between 10 percent and 30 percent of teens have been physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend, according to background information in the study. And dating abuse has been linked to suicidal thoughts, weight gain, sexually transmitted diseases and other physical and mental health problems, the researchers noted.
But preventing dating abuse and assisting victims are not priorities for U.S. high schools, the new study concluded.
"We found that the majority of schools don't have a protocol to deal with incidents of teen dating abuse," said lead researcher Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, an assistant professor of community health education at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.
"This means that most of the school counselors would not know what to do. This is also true for school nurses," he said.
The reasons vary from not considering dating abuse a serious issue to school administrators' reluctance to get involved in romantic relationships, he said. Some also fear parents will object to school interference in a child's personal or sexual life.
"There needs to be more awareness and education about dating violence," Khubchandani said. "Parents and school personnel should collaborate, and there should be regular assessments of the prevalence of this problem."
In addition to physical aggression and sexual assault, dating violence includes psychological abuse. Because teenage victims of dating violence are just beginning to date, they may think abusive behavior is the norm, which can perpetuate the cycle, experts say.
For the study, published online July 9 and in the
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