1 in 3 High School Relationships Involve Abuse
February is Teen Dating Violence (TDV) Awareness Month and unfortunately, 1 in 3 high school relationships involve some form of physical, emotional or sexual abuse. So what do you do if you suspect your child is in an unhealthy dating relationship? Would you even recognize the warning signs? What if you are concerned but they refuse to talk with you about it?
We know many teens who find themselves a victim (or perpetrator) to TDV have witness abuse in their homes, but that is not always the case. Culture, communities, peer groups and other reasons also play a major factor. Teens may be reluctant to talk with you about their relationship, even if they are concerned it is unhealthy or unsafe, becaus ethey feel ashamed or they fear relatiation from their abuser. They may also fear they won't be validated or that you will never understand what they are going through. Their lack of communication with you may cause you to feel helpless but there is something you can do to help...
If you suspect your teen may be involved or beginning a relationship that seems unhealthy or dangerous, you can help them become prepared to take control over the situation with some safety planning. Help them establish open lines of communication with teachers, coaches, friends or counselors. Determine with your child if they need or want to change their schedule in order to avoid conflict or identify someone who can walk with them between classes and after school. Advise your teen to keep a list of contacts with them at all times and to always have their cell phone and wallet with emergency cash. Safety planning is critical and could save your child's life.