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New study finds violence among teens in relationships higher than previously thought

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Experts are concerned with the rate of young women and men dealing with abuse at the hands of their boyfriends and girlfriends.

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics finds that 21 percent of young females and 10 percent of young males said they had been abused physically, emotionally or sexually by a partner.

Revised questions for the study made the rate of abused females double from the year before.

“They don't have a lot of relationship experience to draw from so it's very difficult for them to decide is this normal is it unhealthy,” said Christine Murray, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Murray helps educate counselors who treat teenage victims of abuse. She defines teenage violence as “any type of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse that occurs in the context of a former or current dating or other type of intimate relationships.”

Emma Horsley, a student at Page High School in Greensboro, said she’s seen her friends harassed by someone they are dating.

“It definitely changed them as a person. She had trust issues and now she's been depressed over it,” said Horsley.

Hannah Avondet, another Page High student, said she’s been in that position before. She said she broke it off with her boyfriend but said for many girls that can be hard.

“I would definitely think girls are too afraid to do that because they're all talking about how they're in love with a person but it’s so obvious to other people that the guy is treating like the girl like trash,” said Avondet.

Murray said if parents or other adults suspect abuse they should talk to their teenagers about the relationship they’re in.

“Try you best not to judge them and make them feel condemned for being in that relationship,” said Murray. “Chances are if you as a parent or other adult in that teenager's life is sort of recognizing signs of an unhealthy relationship most likely I would think that the teenager at least on some level is recognizing that it may not be healthy.”

Murray said alerting police to the problem is a solution if a parent feels like their teenager’s safety is at risk. If the abuse is mental, don’t be afraid to contact a local resource like Family Service of the Piedmont.

The group has counselors available at all hours. You can reach Family Service by calling (336) 273-7273.

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