Teens – Prevention
Young people are the future of our church and country. Let us help them find a better way and enter their adulthood without the burden of violence but full of peace, self-confidence and living their faith.
- Teen dating violence has escalated in the last few years and the victims are younger and younger
- National Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474
- Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month: February
One in five teens today say that they have been the victim of, or know a friend who has been the victim of, dating violence. Dating violence consists of verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. This pattern of abusive behavior is used to exert power and control over a dating partner. Typically, by the time physical abuse is present, a pattern of verbal and emotional abuse has already been established. Teens who are in abusive relationships almost never (two out of three) tell anyone, and according to the research, victims of teen dating violence are more likely to abuse drugs, tobacco, or alcohol, have eating disorders, or even commit suicide.
Dating violence has to be taken seriously. If not confronted, it can ultimately affect the rest of a young person’s life by introducing a cycle of unhealthy relationships with violent or abusive partners. Teens that stay in a violent relationship often become confused about what makes a healthy relationship and can begin to mistake abuse for love. As parents, talk to your child about dating violence and discuss the warning signs. Abusive behaviours are usually learned behaviours; therefore, it is important to be a good role model by setting positive examples through your own relationships.
Parents: Look for the warning signs!
- Teen makes excuses and apologizes for his or her partner’s behaviors
- Often has unexplained injuries, such as bruises or body pain
- Isolates him or herself from family and friends and only deals with his or her partner
- Has a dating partner who constantly texts or calls and demands to know where and with whom he or she has been
- Changes his or her behavior in order not to anger or upset his or her partner
- Changes the way he or she dresses in order to please his or her partner
- Has a dating partner who puts him or her down and calls him or her names in front of others
- Has a partner who acts extremely jealous when others pay attention to him or her
- Is frequently upset or depressed and seems withdrawn but won’t explain why
Ten tips to help your teen
- Educate yourself on teen dating violence and access resources that will help you begin the discussion with your teen.
- Talk to your teen about dating violence early. If your teen seems already to be in a dangerous relationship, assure him or her that he or she is not to blame for his or her partner’s behavior and that you are there to help
- Listen to your teen when he or she approaches you about dating abuse. Explain that you are going to help him or her get out of the situation
- Emphasize that when he or she wants help, it is available. Let your child know that dating violence tends to get worse, becomes more frequent with time, and rarely goes away on its own.
- Work with your teen to identify resources that will help him or her take care of his or herself, provide emotional support, and build self-esteem.
- Look for opportunities to increase your child’s self-esteem. Children who believe in themselves and their own worth are better able to choose good partners.
- Be realistic when talking to your teen. Teenagers often have a false picture of romantic relationships. Explain that abuse is not love.
- Share your standards. Talk to your teen about the way he or she should treat and respect others. Explain how you feel he or she should be treated in return.
- Create an open environment. Be open to all of the questions that your child asks. Don’t criticize, judge, or jump to conclusions when he or she asks about relationships.
- Try not to criticize or “put down” the abusive partner when talking to your teen. Maintaining a neutral position may help your teen to open up about his or her situation, rather than feeling that you’re bashing his or her partner.
Quiz for teens
Ask yourself the following questions: if one or more apply to your relationship, you may be in an abusive and unhealthy one.
Has your boyfriend or girlfriend:
- Shoved, kicked or slapped you?
- Humiliated you or made you feel stupid?
- Forced you to have sex?
- Pressured you to use alcohol or drugs?
- Been overtly jealous or possessive?
- Spread rumors or share private pictures of you on the web?
- Harass you via cell phone or text messaging?
- Give orders or make all the decisions?
- Embarrass you in front of others?
- Act in ways that frighten you?
- Try to control who you see, what you do, or what you wear?
- Monitor your computer or cell phone use?
- Get angry at you quickly?
As a teenager you have dating rights.You have the right to be in a happy and healthy relationship. That means:
- Be treated as an equal
- Make decisions about your own body
- Choose your own friends
- End a relationship
- Be loved in a caring way
- Be happy
- Be treated with respect
- Express your own thoughts and opinions
- Live without fear or intimidation
- Feel good about yourself
- Spend time by yourself
- Choose what to wear
- Make decisions for yourself
- Say no
- Change your mind
- Spend time with your family
- Be safe
- Private use of your cell phone or computer
- Spend time doing things of interest to you
If you are victim of dating violence here are some measures you can take to protect yourself.
- Speak with a parent, teacher, counselor, law enforcement officer, or adult you trust and get help immediately, Although abusers may sometimes be loving people, dating violence consists of hostile and abusive acts.
- Create a “safety plan” to prevent a violent attack. Take precautions; let parents and friends know where you are and with whom.
- Obtain a court order against the abuser.
- Keep a written record of the abusive incidents.
- File a police report.