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Teen Dating Violence

When we think of February, I think of love… hearts… red and pink… all things Valentine’s Day, right?  Yes!  But, in that mist of all things ‘relationship,’ we fail to give light to those in unhealthy and often abusive situations.  As such, it’s vital to note that February serves as the designated awareness month for Teen Dating Violence and we proudly wear the color orange in support of teen survivors.

A staggering 1 in 3 teens will experience a form of abuse in a dating relationship.  Defined as the physical, psychological, emotional, and/or sexual violence occurring either in person or electronically, teen dating violence is a rampant issue in our community.  More important to bring attention to is the notion that only 33% of teens in abusive relationship ever tell about the abuse they are experiencing!

Being a teen is not easy!  So many coming-of-age challenges and social pressures make life hard for teens in both their real and online lives.  And, while our teens need us more than ever to help them through this challenging time, they are also seeking independence and turning to peers. Although it may seem easier to let a teen “ghost” you, hang on and start some of those difficult conversations about healthy relationships.  Below are some tips (adapted from Futures Without Violence) to start that chat:

  • Encourage open, honest and thoughtful reflection. Talk openly with young teens about healthy relationships. Allow them to articulate his or her values and expectations for healthy relationships. Rather than dismissing ideas as “wrong”, encourage debate —this helps young people come to his or her own understanding.
  • Understand teen development. Adolescence is all about experimentation. From mood swings to risk taking, “normal teenage behavior” can appear anything-but-normal. New research, however, reveals that brain development during these formative years play a significant role in young teen’s personality and actions. Knowing what’s “normal” is critical to helping you better understand and guide young people.
  • Understand the pressure and the risk teen’s face. Preteens and young teens face new and increasing pressures about sex, substance abuse and dating. Time and time again, young teens express their desire to have parents/role models take the time to listen to them and help them think through the situations they face – be that person!
  • Make the most of “teachable moments.” Use TV episodes, movies, music lyrics, news, community events or the experiences of friends to discuss healthy and unhealthy relationships.
  • Be prepared to make mistakes. You will make mistakes. Accept that you will make mistakes, but continue to help teens make responsible choices while trying to maintain that delicate balance of being sensitive, but firm.

For more info or support, please call the 24/7 HAWC hotline at 713.528.2121

Posted by Aly Kramer Jacobs, M.Ed. on 21 Feb 2019