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Teen Dating Violence: What Your Kids Can't Tell You

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Indian American teenagers, especially girls, may be vulnerable to abuse because of the cultural taboos around dating and a subsequent lack of dialogue with their parents.

Armaan Sharma, 15, a youth leader with the organization Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments, spoke Feb. 7 at a rally on the steps of the California state Capitol in Sacramento, to draw attention to the rise in teen dating violence. (photo provided by Armaan Sharma)

FREMONT, California — Teen dating violence in the U.S. is at an all-time high. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report earlier this month noting that 1 in 5 teen girls have experienced sexual violence, and 1 out of 10 girls have been forced to have non-consensual sex — rape.

Dating violence in all its forms — physical, psychological, and manipulative behavior — have led to increased rates of suicide and depression in teen girls: the CDC reports that 1 out of 3 teen girls has seriously contemplated committing suicide. Asian American teenage girls have the highest rates of suicidal ideation.

Indian American teens may be more vulnerable to dating abuse, believes Armaan Sharma, 15, who serves as a youth leader for the Fremont-based organization Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments. “A lot of South Asian parents try to shield their kids from experiences that may be too difficult or too adult for them. And dating has always been a taboo,” he told New India Abroad.

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