New research gives us a better look at a disturbing problem in our area.
We're talking about intimate partner abuse or dating violence among our youth.
Memorial Health Care System and UTC released results from a local study today.
As News 12's Nordia Epps reports, It shows the problem starts earlier than you might think...and social media's playing a role.
Facebook and cell phones are the latest battleground for teen dating violence.
That's the word from young people right here in Hamilton County.
Howard Roddy, Memorial Health Care System, "Boyfriends taking pictures of girlfriend and then putting it all on the Internet."
Dr. Helen Eigenberg, UTC Criminal Justice Professor, "Boy friends who are engaging in battering also using it to track their girlfriends and so on."
It's just one of the findings from a study by Catholic Health Initiatives... the parent company of Memorial Health Care System ... and the University of Tennessee.
UTC researchers surveyed and interviewed students, educators and service providers...to learn more about the attitudes toward adolescent intimate partner abuse.
Dr. Eigenberg, "We're predominantly looking at physical abuse but emotional abuse is sort of embedded in the questions that we asked and the general explanation of the topic."
Researchers found the ages of concern for both males and females to be around 12 to 18 years old.
Dr. Sharon Love, UTC Criminal Justice Professor, "Intimate partner violence is about power and control, whether it's taken from you or whether you don't know that you have it and you suddenly realize that you've lost it and that starts very early, in middle school and junior high school, so that by the time they're in high school then we see a change and escalation in that behavior."
Another key finding...a need for more student and teacher education to fight the problem our youth are now battling ...before it leads to something even more deadly, serious.
This effort started 2 years ago when Memorial got a grant from Catholic Initiatives.
The next step is to come up with a project for local schools to help prevent teen dating violence.