February is……Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
Teasing and name-calling: Teens often think that these behaviors are a “normal” part of a relationship; however, they can become abusive and develop into more serious forms of violence.
Teen dating violence (TDV) is the physical, sexual, psychological or emotional violence in a dating relationship and it includes stalking. TDV can result in serious long-term and short-term effects. In 2017, a report by the Center of Disease Control found that approximately seven percent of women and four percent of men who experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by a partner first experience some type of abuse by that partner before eighteen years of age.
As teens grow emotionally, they are greatly influenced by experiences in their relationships. Healthy relationships can have a positive effect on a teen’s emotional development. On the other hand, unhealthy, abusive or violent relationships can have severe consequences and short-and long-term negative effects. Symptoms include:
- Depression and anxiety
- Unhealthy behaviors like use of tobacco, drugs or alcohol
- Involvement in antisocial behaviors
- Suicidal thoughts
Unhealthy relationships may last a lifetime. Teen victims of violence are at higher risk for victimization during adulthood.
To keep relationships healthy, communicate with your partner, learn to manage emotions like anger and jealousy, and treat your partner and others with respect.
Teens observe and learn about how to behave in relationships from their peers, adults in their lives, and from the media. Too often, these examples suggest that violence in a relationship is acceptable and normal.
There are reasons violence occurs. TDV is related to certain risk factors. Teens are at increased risk of unhealthy relationships if they:
- Believe that dating violence is acceptable
- Are depressed, anxious, or have other trauma symptoms
- Show aggression toward friends or display other aggressive behaviors
- Use drugs or illegal substances
- Engage in early sexual activity
- Have a friend involved in dating violence
- Have conflicts with a partner
- Witness or experience violence at home
These tips may be helpful in talking to your teens about healthy relationships:
- Talk openly about relationships and allow your teen to express their values and expectations for a healthy relationship.
- Be sensitive, but firm.
- Understand teen development. Knowing what is “normal” will help you understand and guide your teen.
- Understand peer pressure and the risks teens face.
- Make sure your teen knows how you feel about disrespect, the use of abusive or inappropriate language, controlling behavior, or any form of violence.
- Use TV episodes, movies, music lyrics, news or experiences of friends to discuss relationships.
- Talk about standing up for a friend when they see unhealthy behavior, but only if they can do it safely.
- Be involved in your teen’s life. Learn about their friends and interests.
1 in 3 adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.
1 in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically assaulted by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
1 in 4 high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse.
CDC TV’s Break the Silence: Stop the Violence
(In this video, parents talk with teens about developing healthy, respectful relationships before they begin dating.)