"It has to be taken very seriously."Spinks-Franklin say she has seen violence even among relationships between 10- and 11-year-olds."If a parent is concerned that a child is in an unhealthy relationship, they need to address it, but do it in a way that doesn't make the child shut down," she says.
"They need to feel safe telling a parent."Teens often hide the abuse from their parents, Spinks-Franklin says.
Teens are sometimes more willing to talk to doctors, especially if their parents are not in the room.Pediatrician Claire Mc Carthy says she talks about healthy relationships with her adolescent patients and asks if sex is consensual, but she says it is hard for doctors to find time to delve into such intimate issues, given that most pediatric appointments last only 15 minutes.Doctors might be able to bridge this gap by providing additional information for parents through handouts in the waiting room, she says.Teens who have experienced dating violence are at much higher risk for a variety of serious problems.For example, they're more than twice as likely as others to consider suicide.