February is teen dating violence awareness month. This is a time of year where we focus on Black History, Valentine’s Day, and starting to become more honest about our new year’s resolutions.
While February is important for many reasons teen dating violence remains one thing we should be mindful of all year long. Almost 10% of teens have reported being hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend with in the last 12 months. This scary statistic is relevant in many ways. If you know nine of your teen’s friends chances are one of the teens in the group have been a victim of teen dating violence. Exposure to this sort of behavior can make a lasting impression and setup a very unhealthy relationship dynamic in the future.
What is the cost of Teen Dating Violence?
Research shows this can have a negative effect on future relationships for teens and lead to battles with depression, anxiety, and in some cases an increased chance of drug use. The goal is not to chastise your teen about teen dating violence but to open up the channels of communication on this issue and explain to your teen that violence is neither healthy nor acceptable.
What do you do if you find out your teen is an aggressor or victim?
- Start the conversation- If you suspect your teen is struggling with teen dating violence opening up the conversation is important. An open dialogue without judging your teen is the first step in discussing what is going on and moving towards finding a solution.
- Discuss healthy boundaries and your teen- Often abusers will try to isolate their partner. Talk to your teen about what is healthy and reasonable for a relationship. Partners should be respectful of privacy, encouraging of friendships, and be supportive in general.
- Talk about what a disagreement looks like- People in relationships will have disagreements, it is only natural. Learning to work through the disagreements in a respectful manner is important. Often times teens do not understand what is acceptable and what is not, let them know the only acceptable solution to a disagreement is a respectful discussion.
- People break up, that is ok- Teens may see relationships as “Perfect” or “Lifelong.” It is a simple fact of life that relationships come and go. Having your teen understand this can help them to do what is right if teen dating violence appears in their relationship.
This advice is meant to help your teen but if you are fearful of your child in an abusive relationship please reachout to a professional in your communicy and do not hesitate to involve local authorities.