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Signs of Teenage Domestic Violence in the Classroom

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 9/11/2012

What does the term domestic violence consist of when working with students? Know the signs of teenage domestic violence, common "red-flags" and the legal obligations of mandated reporters. Find out what teachers should know on teen domestic abuse.

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    Domestic Violence

    Many of us have heard the term domestic violence before, but what does it truly encompass? If you are a mandated reporter such as a teacher or a counselor, it is necessary to know the signs of teenage domestic violence (possible red-flags which may alert you to an abusive situation), what teachers should know on the subject of teen domestic abuse, and explore your options in offering help to the student.

    Domestic violence is characterized by physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Common examples of physical abuse are hitting, holding, shoving, and scratching, to name a few. Emotional, or verbal abuse, includes put-downs, threats regarding physical violence, and other intimidation tactics. Sexual abuse involves any type of sexual contact with a minor from a non-minor, and forcing sexual contact on a non-consenting adult.

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    Students that have been abused may display warning signs or “red-flags," which may aid a teacher or a counselor in recognition. These “red-flags" are to act as a general guide (although what a teacher should know on teen domestic abuse); they are in no way definite examples of abuse and should not be taken literally. Doing so could risk over-looking students who may not display these behaviors listed, but are still in need of help.

    • Isolating oneself from the rest of the class
    • Frequent trips to the bathroom
    • When asked, talks little of home life
    • Develops anxiety-like symptoms more noticeable at the end of the school day
    • Frequent absences or frequently arriving late to school
    • Always having an excuse for bruises despite the frequency
    • Dropping out of after-school activities
    • Changes in grades or outlook on school towards the negative
    • Few friends, if any, outside of class
    • Drug use commences or increases
    • The wearing of long-sleeved clothing or pants despite warmer weather
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    Teachers Are Mandated Reporters

    Mandated reporters such as teachers and counselors should educate themselves on their state laws regarding their legal obligations. Help for the student can come in many different forms some of which are individual and group therapy, support groups, and offering the individual education on domestic abuse. An individual who is undergoing domestic violence in any form, may benefit from a referral to a local Mental or Behavioral Health agency. Learn what is available in your area.

    Experiencing domestic violence could create a major problem to the student in the classroom. As with noted examples above if a student is facing abusive situations, their outlook and grades in school may suffer. The student may fail a class, a grade or have to drop out of school altogether. Although there may be many reasons for a student’s interest in school declining, the possibility of domestic violence should never be overlooked. In many cases a teacher or school counselor's intervention is the only hope for a teenager experiencing these destructive behaviors. Take the time and know the signs of teenage domestic violence and what teachers should know on the uncomfortable topic of teen domestic abuse.

Looking Deeper Into Issues Many Teenage Students Face

In this series you will find information on various teenage student issues that may cause barriers to learning in the classroom.
  1. Looking Deeper into Typical Teenage Behavioral Issues Students Face
  2. Signs of Domestic Violence in the Classroom
  3. Teens and Drug Use Impact on Learning
  4. Teens with Eating Disorders: A Classroom Concern
  5. Suicidal Ideations and Teenage Students