Olathe Northwest High School students learn how to identify dangerous relationships

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OLATHE, Kan. -- Students at Olathe Northwest High School today are learning about the growing problem of teen dating violence from the prosecutors who put abusers behind bars.

Classmates are learning how to identify dangerous relationships.

Attorneys say teenagers have a much higher risk of being involved in a domestic violence relationship than adults.

The Johnson County District Attorney's office says one out of three teens at this school are likely to be in an abusive relationship, and many may not recognize what's happening to them.

Nearly 5,000 cases of domestic violence are reported in Johnson County every year, and prosecutors say teens need to be educated on warning signs that parents often are uncomfortable discussing.

"The reality is you can be in a very dangerous relationship where there’s no physical violence whatsoever," said Megan Ahsens, a domestic violence prosecutor for Johnson County. "Usually stalking types of behaviors: following people around, online bullying is a big problem, social media bullying. Setting up fake Twitter accounts, even things like threatening to post pictures, if they have taken compromising photographs, which teenagers want to do. Stuff like that is dangerous and damaging to people’s self esteem."

Domestic violence experts say teens don't always recognize that abuse is about power and control in a relationship.

They say too often we live in a rape culture where girls are taught how to avoid being raped, but boys are not taught not to force themselves on women.

Prosecutors, police and social workers will talk to teens at all four of Olathe's high schools about this growing problem in the coming months.

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