Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Teenage intimate partner violence

Lynn Harris on Salon's broadsheet today commented upon a really disturbing phenomenon: boys doing what they can to "force their girlfriends to get pregnant." She cites a study, published in this month's Ambulatory Pediatrics, that is said to be "the first in the general adolescent health literature to document the role of abusive partners in promoting teen pregnancy."

Said Elizabeth Miller, M.D. of UC Davis, one of the study's authors, "Our study suggests that those providing care, especially reproductive care, to adolescent girls need to ask questions that reveal the complexities of partner violence, specifically whether a partner is actively trying to get her pregnant when she doesn't want to be."

"When we see girls who cannot consistently use contraception, who are requesting frequent emergency contraception, or who seek repeat pregnancy testing, we need to be asking very directly about abuse from male partners and find ways to support [the girls] and promote their safety," added Jay Silverman, director of Violence Preventions Programs for the Harvard School of Public Health and senior author on the study.

The take away? Health care providers need to be aware that teens too can be victims of intimate partner violence and to become partners in sensitively identifying and helping those teens.

If you are a victim of intimate partner violence and need help, call the national domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or the national teen dating abuse helpline at 1-866-331-9474

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