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Avoiding Teen Dating Violence


If you are the parent of a teen, an unfortunate reality that you need to take the time to consider is teen dating violence. Though you may assume that your teenager is too young to be facing these kinds of issues, the fact is that teen dating violence is becoming more and more common every day. In fact, a recent study found that nearly a third of teens report being worried about their physical safety while in a relationship, and over half admitted to compromising their values to please their partner. According to another study, over half of today’s teens experience dating violence during their teenage years.

What can you do about it? First of all, make sure that your teen is aware of these possibilities. Yes, it will be a difficult conversation, but like many conversations you’ll be having with your teen, it is a necessary one. Many teens will not know how to recognize the signs of dating violence. They may feel pressured to have and stay in relationships, especially if they consider it a “serious” one. Peer pressure may make them stay in controlling or even violent relationships, especially when dating someone considered “cool” by their friends.

Whether you have a teenage son or daughter, you must make them realize that abusive behaviors are not normal. Jealousy, possessiveness, and abuse have no place in relationships at any age. Physical aggression is not necessary from boys, and girls can and should stand up for themselves. Your children must know that there are resources for help. Educating your teenage children can help them avoid dating violence and abuse. So can building your children’s self esteem from a young age, instilling in them an attitude that they are worthy of being treated well by their friends and partners.

Teach your children how to watch for dangerous situations, both when they are on dates and in any other situation they encounter. Many teenagers naively believe that they are invincible and don’t have to watch out for bad people. Remind them that not everyone they meet can be trusted, and dating violence can happen to anyone, in any relationship. Dating violence can even develop long-term in their relationships, which is something that many teens do not realize. There are many early signs of dating violence, but these will only be caught if your teen knows what to look for.

Set standards for teenage dating. For example, allow younger teens only on double dates or group dates. Always know the plans and who your children are with. Trust them, but always verify the details. It is your responsibility to protect your children, not to always let them do anything they want with anyone. Make your teenager’s safety your top priority.

Simple knowledge may not go far enough. What can your teen do when faced with real-life situations ranging from date rape to an abusive boyfriend to someone approaching them in a parking lot? Prepare your teenagers by giving them a keychain pepper spray canister or a pepper spray pen, both inconspicuous yet effective ways of stopping any violent situation they may encounter, whether on a date, at a party, at the mall, or anywhere else.

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Listed: January 12, 2010 4:38 pm