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Dating abuse among teenagers has reached alarming levels, and many parents aren’t taking the necessary steps to help curb it, experts say.

Amy Bonomi, in conjunction with Seattle’s Group Health Research Institute, wrote a new study that surveyed college students younger than 21 about their dating history from 13 to 19.

“Nearly two-thirds of both boys and girls reported dating violence during their teenage years,” says Bonomi, associate professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University. “One-third of teens who said they were abused reported two or more abusive partners. More than half of teens said they had multiple occurrences of abuse. Two-thirds reported violent victimization.”

Her findings square with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, which show 1 in 4 adolescents report verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse each year, and 1 in 10 report being a victim of physical dating abuse. Arkansas is among the states where teens reported the highest levels of abuse, with 14.1 percent or more stating that they had been hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the 12 months prior to the survey, according to figures at ncsl.org/issues-research/health/teen-dating-violence.aspx.

At least 19 states have laws that encourage or mandate school boards to develop curricula on teen dating violence, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Arkansas is not among them. See Wednesday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more.

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