February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Although the issue of dating abuse should be on our radars all the time, it’s important to use this month to acknowledge how serious this problem is becoming in America – and take active steps to stop it.
are victims of dating abuse each year, according to Love Is Respect, an anti-violence advocacy group. That’s only an estimate, based on reported cases. Like adult victims of domestic violence, many teens are afraid of reporting their abuser to parents, teachers and guidance counselors – and certainly to law enforcement. Victims often have the impression that no one will believe them, or that their partner will punish them even more if they seek help.
How to Teach Your Teen Healthy Communication about Violent Dating Relationships
One of the trickiest parts of parenting teens is knowing how to talk to them about such delicate matters. Adolescence and puberty are notoriously difficult for parents as their children begin reaching for independence and self-exploration, and letting go is hard. However, psychologists emphasize that as teens face social pressures to have sex, try drugs, or drink, parents have a duty to inform their child about how to cope with those challenges.
Help Your Teen Understand Healthy Communication Skills in a Relationship
Parents are in a unique position to teach their children about what constitutes a healthy relationship. Naturally, it starts at home. From a young age, kids observe the social dynamics between their parents. They pick up on positive and negative behaviors, and those actions – both verbal and physical – may have a long-term impact on the way they relate to others. That’s not to say that every child who observes a violent relationship will go on to hurt their own romantic partners in the future. But it can shape how they feel about dating when it comes to matters of control, courtesy and respect.
For more information about teen dating violence, visit these sites:
- Love Is Respect
- Love Is Not Abuse
- National Resource Center for Teen Dating Violence
- Break The Cycle
- National Dating Abuse Helpline
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- National Center for Victims of Crime
- National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence