Mom to Mom: Teen Dating Violence Awareness
February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, set aside in 2010 to raise awareness in teens and their families about the dangers of violence within a dating relationship. Discussing dating violence and unhealthy relationships with children can be tough, but it’s a necessary conversation to have.
I have a daughter who is 13 and a son who is 12. As they start making those adorable puppy love eyes at people in their class, I want to take the time to tell them what is and is not appropriate in a relationship.
Of course, abuse isn’t just physical. It can also be psychological and sexual. According to loveisrespect.org, nearly 1.5 million high school students across the country experience abuse from a dating partner every year. Parents need to take the time to speak with their teens before they start dating and educate them about warning signs, including possessiveness, controlling behaviors, extreme changes in mood and more.
Teens who are dating need to know how to set boundaries about how and when to handle an argument. Compromise is hard at any age, but especially as a teen, so helping kids learn how to compromise is vital. But most important is helping your child know what to look for in an unhealthy relationship and how to get out of it if needed. You can give them the tools to be safe.
There are many websites set up with resources to help parents and educators teach teens about dating relationships and how to handle an unhealthy relationship. Many offer education kits and printable worksheets to aid adults in equipping their teens to have healthy relationships.
Kids need to know how to get out of a situation or relationship that is harmful. Parents and teachers should be open to hearing anything children tell them. Watch for warning signs like possessiveness or extreme jealousy in a dating relationship. If a teen confides in you, believe them and offer support to them as they try to leave the relationship.