The new school year is approaching, a perfect time of year for parents to sit down with their teens to talk to them about their responsibilities in school like earning good grades, getting to class on time, and staying out of trouble. In addition, a very important topic parents should discuss with their teens this time of year is that of dating and the possibility of dating abuse.
Most parents cringe at the thought of their teen being involved in a romantic relationship and have no idea how to approach the subject. But one of the most important steps parents can take to prevent dating abuse is quite simple: start talking! Talk to your child about what constitutes a healthy, respectful relationship and please assure them that they are not to blame if they are in an unhealthy relationship, and that you’re available to help them be safe and happy.
While nearly one in three high school students who have been in relationships have experienced the most serious forms of dating violence and abuse, including sexual abuse, physical abuse, or threats of physical harm to a partner or self, less than 25 percent say they have discussed dating violence with their parents.
Discussing dating violence with your teen doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. Ask how things are going in general and try bringing up the subject by asking what their friends’ dating relationships are like. Ask if your teen has seen any type of abusive behavior between dating couples. This brings up an opportunity to discuss the warning signs of dating abuse.
Your teen may be experiencing dating abuse if they:
• Apologize and/or makes excuses for his/her partner’s behavior.
• Lose interest in activities that he/she use to enjoy.
• Stop seeing friends and family members and become more and more isolated.
• Casually mention the partner’s violent behavior, but laughs it off as a joke.
• Often have unexplained injuries or their explanations often don’t make sense.
Your teen’s partner may be abusive if they:
• Call your teen names and put him/her down in front of others.
• Act extremely jealous of others who pay attention to your teen.
• Think or tell your teen that you, the parent(s), don’t like them.
• Control your teen’s behavior, checking up constantly, calling or texting, and demanding to know who he/she has been with.
Hubbard House, the domestic violence center serving Duval and Baker counties, would like parents to know the difference between unhealthy versus healthy dating relationships, and to be prepared with safety tips and warning signs to discuss with their teens. Prevention is the key, so start talking!
• To speak to a Hubbard House advocate about domestic/dating violence please call (904) 354-3114 or (800) 500-1119 or visit www.hubbardhouse.org.
• Teens can call the national teen dating abuse helpline at (866) 331-9474 or chat online with a peer advocate at http://www.loveisrespect.org.
• Test your knowledge of teen dating violence and find out dating abuse facts at http://loveisnotabuse.com.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship please call the Hubbard House 24-Hour Domestic Violence Hotline at (904) 354-3114 or (800) 500-1119.
ABOUT HUBBARD HOUSE
Founded as the first domestic violence shelter in Florida in 1976, Hubbard House is a certified, comprehensive domestic violence center providing programs and services to more than 6,000 women, children, and men annually in Duval and Baker counties. While Hubbard House is most known for its emergency shelter, the agency also provides extensive adult and youth outreach services, school-based education, therapeutic childcare, batterers’ intervention programs, court advocacy and volunteer and community education opportunities. Visit www.hubbardhouse.org to learn more.