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NEW YORK. (Reuters Life!) - A new iPhone app launched this week is designed to educate parents about teen dating abuse and violence, and how to get help to combat it.
The app, Love is Not Abuse, shows how teenagers can use technology such as cell phones and social networking sites to exert control over other adolescents.
"Technology is a tool for someone trying to exert power or control to do that. We've heard of cases of teens in relationships checking up on their partner, 10, 20, even 30 times an hour," said Jane Randel, of the clothing company Liz Claiborne Inc., which helped to launch the app.
"We tend to think of abuse as black eyes and bruises, but there is a lot more to it than that. This app allows us to show the subtleties and insidious aspects of it."
The app provides information on teen dating violence, how to spot abusive behavior, how to talk to teens and where to seek help from experts and leading organizations.
Examples of threatening text messages, emails and phone calls from an abusive boyfriend or girlfriend are also included in the app.
Randel said the app is particularly relevant following a study by researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health which showed that parents are much less likely to talk about the dangers of abusive relationships than sexual activity, alcohol or drug use with their teens.
"Many parents are likely to only discuss dating and dating violence once they believe their child is dating," said Randel. "It's not really helpful for prevention to talk about it when it's happened."
A 2009 survey commissioned by Liz Claiborne Inc. also showed that nearly one in three dating teens reported physical abuse or the threat of physical abuse. Twenty percent reported abuse through technology, and nearly half said they were manipulated, threatened or pressured to do things they did not want to do.
"Our hope is that the app will wake parents up to the truly terrible reality of teen dating abuse and get them talking to their kids about dating relationships -- both healthy and abusive," said Randel.
The app can be downloaded on the iTunes store under the search word "LINA".