Message in A Cell Phone

Technology Provides New Means for Teen Abuse

Today is February 14 – Valentines day, and most of you are busy preparing for your date or are excited to be with your love ones. My friends were asking me how will I celebrate Valentines this year. My reply is simple: Stay home with my three beautiful angels. I am not trying to be unromantic here but I really don’t celebrate Valentines Day. I firmly believe that although we get to celebrate Valentines Day once a year, LOVE should be a one year round thing.

Anyway, my lovelife is not the center of our topic today but rather the lovelife of our kids. Given the advancement of technology, courtship is now on a new and higher level. Unlike during my time, the only means of communication for me was writing letters and phone. Today, we have email, chat, SMS (text messaging), social networking sites, blogging, forum, instant messaging, and others. Teenagers nowadays gets to be more creative in their courtship with the help of technology.

But while romance or relationship has been taken to a new level, the danger that comes with it has also risen. A study conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited at the request of Liz Claiborne Inc. revealed that information technology and telecommunications are often used to abused teens. Such technology, popular among teenagers, includes cell phones, e-mail and Internet messaging. One in three teens reported being text messaged 10, 20 or 30 times an hour by a partner to find out where they are, who they are with and what they are doing. One in four teens reported being text messaged by a boyfriend or girlfriend at least hourly between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., said the study.

Other findings:

– 24 percent of dating teens said they’re repeatedly called or text-messaged by their partner between midnight and 5 a.m.
– More than a third were contacted up to 30 times a day by partners asking where they are and who they’re with
– 71 percent said partner harassment on networking sites or cell phones is a big problem for teens
– Parents are often unaware, and kids may not know where to turn.

Victims may remain in abusive relationships for many reasons, including fear of the perpetrator, self-blame, loyalty, love for the perpetrator, social stigma, or lack of understanding.

According to Liz Claiborne Inc.’s study, conducted among 615 teenagers ages 13 to 18 and 414 parents with children that age, 63 percent of teenagers believe using common technological devices to threaten physical harm is a serious problem. One fifth of teens in a relationship have been asked over a cell phone or the Internet to engage in sexual activity when they didn’t want to. Ten percent claim they have been threatened physically via e-mail, Instant Messenger, text message, chat or other technological means.

The study’s margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points for the teenage sample and 5 percentage points for the adults. Victims of abusive behavior were also reluctant to tell their parents. Seventy-two percent said they didn’t tell them about receiving a harassing number of e-mails or text messages, and 82 percent had not told them about being pressed to engage in sexual activity.

Facts and tips:

– Don’t be fooled into thinking all child molesters are strangers, dirty old men, homosexuals, mentally disabled, or addicted to drugs or alcohol.
– 93 percent of victims know their abusers: 34 percent are abused by family members; 59 percent are abused by someone trusted by the family.
– Monitor your children’s Internet use. Abusers may use the Internet as a tool to interact privately with children, with the ultimate goal of luring children into physical contact.
– Abusers often try to earn the trust of potential victims and their families. This enables them to more easily gain time alone with the children.
– Always talk to your children about their daily activities. Show interest in their feelings. Encourage them to share their concerns and problems with you.
– Explain that no one has the right to touch them in a way that makes them uncomfortable, including adults whom they know and trust.
– Reassure your children that sexual abuse is never the fault of the children.
– Teach your children that it’s your job to protect them, and that you can protect them only if they tell you when something is wrong.
– Develop a healthy spiritual life with your family. Pray and read the Bible everyday.

As a general rule: Parents should know who their kids are dating and be alert for signs of trouble, such as a child who suddenly has no friends other than the boyfriend or girlfriend. Be more sensitive and observant about your child’s activities and behavioral changes if any. Don’t be too busy with your work, friends and/or other activities, always have enough time with your family. A healthy family with God at the center of it is the best protection you can have against abusers.



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