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Teens SMS to control

Washington, Feb. 9 (Reuters): Jealous teenagers often use cellphones and computers to harass and control their romantic partners, and most victims of the abuse are reluctant to discuss it with their parents, a survey showed yesterday.

The survey, carried out by Teenage Research Unlimited, found nearly 25 per cent of teens in a relationship had received hourly text messages or phone calls to check up on them between midnight and 5 am. One out of six said they had received messages 10 or more times an hour overnight.

“According to our experts, contacting someone that frequently with those kinds of questions is simply about control and intimidation. It’s not a casual conversation,” said Jane Randel, a vice-president for clothing retailer Liz Claiborne Inc., which commissioned the survey.

The survey was released at the launch of loveisrespect.org, The National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline, an Internet and telephone service to help teenagers involved in abusive relationships.

More than a third of the teens questioned for the survey said a boyfriend or girlfriend had harassed them with text messages, and a quarter said their partner had used a cellphone, email, blog or web chat to insult them.

One in five said their partners had used cellphones, email or instant messaging to press them for sex, and one in 10 said they had been threatened with violence.

Victims of abusive behaviour were reluctant to tell their parents. Seventy-two per cent said they had not told them about receiving a harassing number of emails or text messages, and 82 per cent had not told them about being pressed to engage in sexual activity, the survey said.

Asked about why they had not told their parents about the abusive behaviour, nearly half said the problem was not serious, and more than a quarter said they feared losing access to the technology, either cell phone or computer, the survey said.

The online survey, carried out from December 15 to 22, questioned 615 youngsters aged 13 to 18 and 414 parents of teens in that age range.

It had a margin of error of 4 percentage points for the teenagers and 5 for the adults. The margin of error for teens in a relationship was 5 percentage points, and 7 percentage points for the parents of teens in a relationship.

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