“The effects of abuse are devastating and far-reaching. Domestic violence speaks many languages, has many colors and lives in many different communities.” — Sandra Pupatello
Ain’t no love like young love. If I could go back to my teenage days and do it all again, best believe I will. But that was when teenage love was adventurous, thrilling, and innocent. Sadly, it’s not the same anymore — at least, a significant number of them.
Nowadays, teenage love can sound like something out of a horror movie. From punches to sexual violence, psychological aggression, stalking, and more punches, teenage relationships seem to be remarkably complicated today. Maybe we had it coming; I mean, relationships demand more maturity than many 15 and 16-year-olds have developed. Could it be that we’ve let our kids cross the bridge too soon?
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not all tales of woe and grim. There are still healthy teen relationships bursting with good communication, kindness, and respect. But with the prevalence of teen dating violence in our world today, it’s a wise idea to err on the side of caution. We can do this by recognizing and standing up against teenage dating violence whenever it rears its ugly head.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
Let’s see what facts and statistics have to say about teenage dating violence:
- Every minute, about 20 people are victims of intimate partner violence in the USA
- In 2019, 2% of high school students in the United States reported physical dating violence in the previous year
- Teen dating violence victims are likely to become abusers in adulthood
- About 76 percent of teens report emotional and psychological abuse during relationships
- On an average, 1 in 12 high school students experienced sexual dating violence in 2019
- Female teenagers are more at risk than their male counterparts. Also, students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) are at greater risk of physical and sexual dating violence than heterosexual students.
- Teen who live in violent homes are more likely to be teen dating aggressors or victims. They are like sponges, absorbing everything that goes on in their environment. This facilitates a culture of family old school generations birthing new generations that see violence as normal.
Is My Child a Victim?
As a mom to an adorable teenage son, my first reaction to teen relationship violence may be “not my child.” So, I get it if you think everyone else can be victims but not your precious baby.
But let’s face reality. Your child doesn’t have to be an unruly teen to suffer teen dating violence or any form of bullying. So, if your kid is dating someone, it’s best to watch out for these signs (remember what I said about erring on the side of caution?):
- Isolation from friends and withdrawal from hobbies
- Unexplained injuries
- Unreasonable partner-pleasing tendencies
Towards Ending Teen Dating Violence
“For every one person that says it’s going to be okay, I want someone else to come up and say, ‘no, it’s not, and I’ll help you through it’ ” ~ Anonymous
Preventing and ending teen dating violence involves:
● Modeling Healthy Relationships
Preventing teenage dating violence starts with you and what you model. When you treat your children with love and respect, they learn to accept nothing less. They’re also watching how you relate with others. Be sure to model the right values all the time.
● Teaching Your Kid That Cutting Off Toxic Friendships Is Okay
Teens must learn to create healthy boundaries and never to be people-pleasers. Also empower them with the necessary skills to cut off toxic friends and relationships before it’s too late. Confused on how to get this done? You can gain some insights from my article, Bullying: It’s Time to Let Go: That is Not a Friend!
● Telling Your Children To Always Speak Up
Create an environment in your home that lets your teens talk to you about anything. That way, you will know immediately anything goes wrong. Encourage them to dial 911 in emergencies and seek professional assistance for their mental health when necessary.
Let’s Get To Work
As parents, we must shield our children from harm — even when it means protecting them from themselves. If they get hurt, you also feel pain. So, why not join the fight against teen dating violence, not tomorrow, but right now?
You can take action by empowering your teen with the right information, so they are able to recognize red flags and end toxic relationships. It’s also important to keep an extra eye on them and listen always.