Whether you have or will have a teen in your home or if you are the grandparent of a teen, this is a topic worthy of your time and attention.
In a healthy dating relationship skills class for teens, the facilitator asked the participants what they do when they get angry at their boyfriend or girlfriend. One young man spoke up and said, “I just choke her.”
Sadly, violence is a reality in many teen dating relationships.
According to a study commissioned by Liz Claiborne and conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited in 2008:
National Center for Victims of Crime studies indicate that teen dating violence runs across race, gender and socioeconomic lines. Males and females are victims, but boys and girls are abusive in different ways. Girls are more likely to yell, threaten to hurt themselves, pinch, slap, scratch, or kick. Boys injure girls more severely and frequently.
A comparison of intimate partner violence rates between teens and adults reveals that teens are at higher risk in intimate partner abuse.
Is your teen at risk?
Does he or she know the warning signs of an abusive relationship? Would you as a parent recognize the symptoms? Many parents say they do not know the warning signs of teen dating violence.
If you are wondering whether or not your teen is in an unhealthy relationship, here are some warning signs from the Break the Cycle website:
Teens need to understand that hitting their girlfriend or boyfriend is a crime. In the vast majority of teen dating violence the female is the victim. However, this doesn’t mean this is a conversation that should take place just with female teens. This is an important conversation for parents to have with their sons and daughters.
There are a number of excellent resources available to assist you in talking with your teen about dating violence, including breakthecycle.org, which has a parent’s guide for talking to your teen, statistics, warning signs and additional resources. There is also a great resource for teens, loveisrespect.org.
Being aware of the warning signs of violence and taking action can not only prevent the wrong types of relationships from taking place, but can put an end to the cycle of abuse in which your teen or his or her friends may already be involved.