We hear all the time about relationship violence in our cities and towns, but what we don’t talk about to much is teen dating violence.
Yes, our teens are in dating relationships where there are forms of abuse that we as parents may not have thought about.
It’s time to speak out to our young girls and boys and give them guidance on what is ok and what is not ok.
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Parents Talk To Your Teens
It's our job as parents and guardians to talk to our teens and to pay attention to the signs of abuse in their dating lives.
They depend on you to talk with them about many different things in the dating world besides the normal things like the birds and the bees.
Teen dating violence is where it all starts, so be sure to talk to your teens and come up with a plan together on what's expected.
Let's not waste anymore time!
Teen dating violence happens everywhere - at school, at the park, it can even happen in the home.
There are ways to help prepare your teen for what to expect and what isn't acceptable in a dating relationship.
Teen dating violence goes unnoticed a lot and it is important for parents and guardians to be aware what our teens are doing and who they are around.
It's our job to keep up with their lives even if we are busy working parents because they have no one else to turn to but us.
We need to keep open our ears and eyes so we as their parents notice the warning signs.
We have the power to prevent it from happening to our teen in the first place if our teen knows what to look for and what to do before violence starts.
Teen Dating Violence Warning Signs
Teen dating violence has many warning signs you may not have thought about, here are a few.
Is there a history of violence with previous friends or others they have dated?
Are there threats of violence, or any use of force?
Is there cruelty to animals?
Is there a sudden change in behavior?
Are you noticing unexplained marks or bruises?
Are traits of sudden anger, jealousy, verbal abuse, controlling behavior, unpredictable mood swings present?
Any of these can be predictors of future bad behavior and definite warning signs that we as parents need to pay attention to.
Set Teen Dating Standards
Meet the person they are dating or want to go out with.
Get to know them before letting them go out together.
Allow time for them to hang out at your house where you can get a feel of who this person is.
Make sure to talk about what kind of touch is ok and what ones are not ok.
Talk about certain gestures that should and shouldn't happen.
When you feel comfortable about letting your teen go out of the house on dates, only allow double dates for the first few dates.
Know exactly what the plans are, who they are going with, where they are going, what they plan to do, when they plan to go and be back.
Make sure all plans are very specific and everyone in the party is well aware and understands what the plan is.
I can not stress this part enough trust but always always verify.
It is your responsibility to set the standards for their actions.
Teen dating violence can be prevented when our teens have a good idea of what good standards are.
Develop A Teen Dating Violence Safety Plan
Having a safety plan is a great way to have a back up plan in case teen dating violence does occur.
Here are some ideas that could make all the difference.
In an emergency make sure they know who to call: police, relative, parents, friend, neighbor, pastor or another trusted adult.
Make sure to have those numbers programmed into their phone along with a piece of paper they can put in their pocket with all numbers of contacts they can reach out to.
Better yet, have them memorize two to three phone numbers so if their phone and the paper is taken, they can still reach out to someone they trust.
Make sure to keep those contacts in the loop so they know if the call comes through there could be something wrong and they know to answer the phone.
Make sure your teen knows who is safe to talk to in case of an emergency.
Talk about a buddy system.
Find someone who is a good influence and your teen feels comfortable talking with.
If things get to a point where there could be possible danger, make sure to come up with a plan to change routines to and from school, work, or other regular scheduled visits.
Carry some non lethal self defense items such as, pepper spray (I don't fully recommend this for young teens because it could be taken and used against them by their abuser) and personal defense alarms these are great for throwing the attacker off and drawing attention to your teen.
Self defense classes are also a great thing to add to any safety plan knowing how to defend ourselves in many different situations is so important.
Self defense isn't always dealing with a situation in a violent manner but more or less knowing how to get yourself out of harms way and keeping control of the situation.
Always trust your instinct when something doesn't seem quite right, it most likely isn't.
Above all be prepared for anything that might be possible.
Make an escape plan if they are out on a date.
Know the place they will be going and make sure there is a get away plan in place in case things get to that point.
Knowing what to look for and keeping an open mind may end up saving your teens life.
Communication About Teen Dating Violence
Communication is so important making sure that your teen and you have good communication skills is key.
Your child will not talk to you about issues if they feel like they will be judged or get in trouble.
Make sure they know you are on their side the way you approach a conversation is important try to come as a friend and not pointing fingers.
Making sure there is a good foundation with our teens matters so much for their safety.
If you want to learn to have better conversations with your teens you can check out my other post on how to have quality conversations with children.
Talk to your teens about relationships.
Make it something regular so it doesn't be come offensive when you are talking to them about what's ok and what's not.
Let them know you are there to help in any ways or answer any questions they may have.
Getting Help In The Event Teen Dating Violence Occurs
If your teen has suffered from previous teen dating violence, it's a good idea to seek out some help as soon as possible.
Violence in a relationship can have so many short and long term effects on your teens.
The CDC reports that teens that have experienced dating violence can exhibit behaviors such as being anti social, get involved in drug and alcohol use, experience anxiety and depression, have problems in adulthood relationships, and may even consider suicide.
Even if your teen claims they don't need therapy, I strongly recommend that you have them go because the rest of their life may depend on it.
It is important to find the right therapy for them.
Call around and look for places that deal with dating violence and other types of abuse to make sure they get the best help out there.
Teen dating violence is a real thing and it goes unnoticed more often then not, as moms and dads it is our job to make sure that our teens know how a healthy relationship should be.
Make sure you are talking with your teens on a regular basis to know what is going on in their lives because they depend on you as their parent.
I hope that this has given parents everywhere a better picture of what to look for in our teens life so we can lessen the chances of teen dating violence.