I’ve often thought about that song, “Breaking Up Was Easy in the 90s” by Country Singer Sam Hunt as I wonder how teens and young adults navigate relationships today. There really wasn’t social media in …
Know About It: Teen Dating Violence
I’ve often thought about that song, “Breaking Up Was Easy in the 90s” by Country Singer Sam Hunt as I wonder how teens and young adults navigate relationships today.
There really wasn’t social media in the 90s. I remember MySpace, which was launched in 2004 and then from there an explosion of various social media outlets and options, so many I can honestly say I have not even tried to master.
Yet, today, teens and young adults find themselves constantly connected to one another virtually, leaving me to wonder how do our children and youth learn the appropriate way to break up with someone?
And where do they learn the attributes of a healthy relationship versus a relationship that is based upon unhealthy, controlling behaviors?
Nationwide February has been designated as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and locally, Hands of Hope staff are working to educate the community on how they can become involved in breaking the cycle of teen dating violence.
On, Saturday, Feb. 11, the Mississinewa High School boy’s basketball game will feature information about teen dating violence. There will also be a T-shirt giveaway highlighting the theme: Know About It – referring to teen dating violence. Thanks to local businesses and individuals, 100 shirts will be given out displaying Hands of Hope’s 24 hour helpline.
Marion High School also has agreed to get on board with this initiative by hosting a similar event at their boys’ basketball game on Friday, Feb. 17.
I would encourage the community to come out and support these local teams, as well as all local students. It is of critical importance that each one of us remember what it was like to be a teen once, trying to find your way. The pre-teen and teen years should be a time to enjoy life and learn what you want out of life, whether or not that includes an intimate partner relationship.
Teen dating violence is common –Nearly 1 in 11 female and about 1 in 15 male high school students report having experienced physical dating violence in the last year while about 1 in 9 female and 1 in 36 male high school students report having experienced sexual dating violence in the last year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Teens often think some behaviors like teasing and name-calling are a “normal” part of a relationship, but these behaviors can become abusive and develop into serious forms of violence.
The key is making sure our pre-teens and teens are educated so when they decide to date someone, they can see the warning signs which include:
- Physical violence
Examples: Hitting, kicking, pushing
- Sexual violence
Examples: Forcing a partner to take part in a sex act
- Psychological abuse
Examples: Name-calling, insulting, threatening
Examples: Repeated unwanted or threatening phone calls or messages, showing up unwanted
Teen Dating Violence can happen in person or electronically including repeated texting or posting sexual pictures of a partner online without their permission.
Ideally, parents should be the ones having the conversation about dating, relationships, sex and abuse. Unfortunately, too often that doesn’t happen, which is why each of us have a responsibility to educate ourselves and then in turn educate others. If you have direct contact with a pre-teen or teen, talk to them about teen dating violence.
If you know someone who has direct contact, encourage them to become informed. And, as a parent of a pre-teen or teen, please be involved in your child’s life, but also allow other professionals who might be able to educate your child to play that role.
I remember as a parent to three strong willed daughters, that while I was not shy about having the tough conversations, my attempts were not always easily received – thankfully my daughters were surrounded by other positive role models who could relay the message.
My thinking about the importance of talking to teens was reinforced when I read a comment from a Grant County high school student in response to a Hands of Hope presentation about healthy relationships the student had heard on Jan. 23:
“This was very enlightening as I feel adults just expect all of us to know these things without actually talking to us about them.”
As has often been said when referring to parenting, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child” – so let’s ban together and make this February’s focus on how to empower our youth so that all of their relationships are healthy and happy.
For more information about teen dating violence go to Hands of Hope’s Facebook page or call our 24 hour helpline at 765-664-0701.