The General Hospital Teen Dating Abuse Storyline…

May 20, 2010

The General Hospital Teen Dating Abuse Storyline

GH Entertains and Educates Viewers on Difficult Topic

General Hospital (GH)  chose to tackle the topic of teenage dating abuse in a recent storyline. The story was/is the ability to entertain and educate on teen violence.

Everyday, millions of daytime fans tune into their favorite soap opera to be entertained with the latest drama which includes the extramarital affairs, evil twins, rapidly aging kids, and returns from the dead. In addition to providing this type of entertainment, the ABC Daytime Drama, General Hospital (GH) has entered into challenging story-lines, specifically because the soap is centered around a hospital. Historically, the soap has dealt with tough story-lines surrounding contemporary topics such as AIDS, breast cancer, bipolar disorder, health care, and addiction. However, GH has recently tackled a contemporary, yet sometimes shielded topic, that of teen dating abuse.

The GH Teenage Abuse Storyline

Kristina Davis (portrayed by Lexi Ainsworth) is 17, has an overbearing mother and a semi-absent father with a questionable lifestyle. She has been in trouble in the past, but has never really taken responsibility for her actions. For months, GH fans have watched as the victim, Kristina, has taken both verbal abuse and an occasional slap in the face from her boyfriend, Kiefer. Kiefer appears to be the perfect boyfriend, he gets all A’s, is involved in sports, and has been accepted into Harvard. However, he has a volatile temper and is very jealous and controlling.

Kiefer  pressured Kristina into having sex and  bought her a phone so that he can keep track of her at all times. Whenever he is abusive toward Kristina, he tells her that it’s her fault, saying things like “I just love you so much, but you make me so angry sometimes”. Kristina told no one of the verbal and physical abuse that she continued to experience. Ultimately, Kiefer, jealous of Kristina’s interest in another guy, beats her badly enough that she ended up in the hospital numerous times.

Teen Dating Violence Statistics

The fictional GH storyline of Kristina and Kiefer provides viewers a look into what many young people are experiencing with dating and teen violence. According to Love is Respect – National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, teen dating abuse is very common. Research has shown the following statistics:

  • 20% of teens in a serious relationship reported being hit, slapped, or pushed by their partner
  • About 30% of girls reported being concerned about physical abuse at the hands of their partner
  • 25% of teens in a serious relationship reported that their partner prevented them from spending time with family, and felt pressure to spend time only with their partner
  • 23% of girls felt sexually pressured while in a relationship and went further than they wanted to because of it

How the GH Teenage Abuse Storyline Educates Viewers

General Hospital has handled this story with compelling writing and acting. In addition, the soap has been responsible by broadcasting a series of public service announcements made by the fictional victim, Kristina (Lexi Ainsworth) after several episodes. Furthermore, in the March 30, 2010 issue of Soap Opera Weekly, Joe Diliberto states that GH is acting responsibly by using the Kristina/Kiefer story to inform viewers about teen dating violence. Consequently, viewers that are parents or teenagers themselves can benefit from the information in this storyline.

The storyline still incorporates its soap opera edge because Kristina happens to be the daughter of a mob boss, and she has accused the wrong man of the attack.  Protecting her abuser by lying adds spice to the story; however, this type of protective behavior is not uncommon in these types of situations.

Teen dating abuse is part of the many complex issues that teens have to deal with today.  The ABS soap opera, General Hospital chose to deal with this issue by dedicating an entire storyline to the topic.  This storyline entertains the viewers, but goes beyond just entertainment by educating parents and teens about dating abuse and informs teens where they can go to get help.

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