When news broke that Rihanna had at the very least collaborated with ex-boyfriend Chris Brown on new music, and at most reconciled with him romantically, the blogosphere exploded with a variety of questions; is Rihanna’s career in danger, is her health in danger, should we forgive Chris Brown, and so on.
Those questions remain up in the air. What we do know is that dating violence is an all-too-common reality for Black youth. If anything, the saga of Rihanna and Chris Brown can at least be used as a teachable moment for young people.
According to a report from the CDC, 1 out of 11 high school students have experienced physical violence from a boyfriend or girlfriend. Chillingly, Black teenage girls are 80 percent more likely to be intentionally assaulted by their boyfriends.
Witnessing violence at home, issues related to poverty, and the limited life experience that comes with youth can all share blame for these startling statistics.
“‘Things like education, income, access to resources, and social disadvantage are also strongly linked to violence,’ says Laura J. Hogan, co-director of Start Strong, an 11-site program promoting healthy teen dating.
The biggest problem lies, Hogan says, in teenagers’ lack of life experience.
‘Teenagers don’t have years and years of dating experience to draw from,’ she says. ‘They are learning as they go, learning from the role models they have around them, and figuring things out along the way.’
Teens are more likely to react to conflicts with aggression or violence in order to ‘save face’ in front of their friends, according to Hogan.
‘They’re also less likely to challenge abusive behaviors if these are considered normal by their peers,’ she says.”
How can we reduce instances of dating violence amongst Black youth?
Do situations like the ongoing Rihanna-Chris Brown saga normalize dating violence in the minds of young people?
Sound off below!