Feburary is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Did you know, every year it is estimated that over 1 million high school students nationwide are physically abused by a dating partner. In addition,it is found that 3 in 4 parents have never discussed domestic violence and unhealthy relationships with their kids. Teen dating violence is defined as a pattern of abuse or threat that occurs between teenaged dating partners. This abuse can be verbal, physical, emotional, sexual, or digital. It occurs across diverse groups and cultures. The abuse that is experienced by teens is not different from the domestic violence experienced by adults.
In light of Teen Dating Awareness month it is importance to stand against the issue of abuse that teens are facing. Teen dating violence puts teens at risk to experience long-term consequences like alcoholism, eating disorders, thoughts of suicide, and violent behavior. Experiencing abuse at a young age puts you at risk to continue to the pattern of being in unhealthy relationships. So many people assume that we all know what a healthy relationship looks like, but that is not the case. Teens may not realize they are in an abusive or unhealthy relationship or they may be too ashamed to ask for help. Keep in mind, teens who grew up in homes where abuse took place may think it is normal to be abuse in an intimate relationship.
Another very important issue that teens are facing is the use of technology. Today, a lot of the abuse that teens experience is similar to that of adults but the use of technology makes it harder for teens. Many teens are on some platform of social media, putting them at a higher risk to be abused by a dating partner. Technology creates another layer of privacy from the outside world, keeping the abuse a deeper darker secret. Technology gives abusers another platform to abuse their partners. What often times occurs is that social media and technology give abusers another way to monitor their partners, they monitor where they check in, who they took a picture with, or even when the last time they have been online. The widespread use of technology and social media makes it very hard for victims of abuse to escape their abusers.
As mentioned earlier, many times parents and teachers have no idea that the abuse is happening. Also, there are many tech savvy teens that make it hard for parents to even notice that the abuse is taking place. However, there are things we can do to break the cycle of abuse and prevent it from further occurring :
- Talk to teens about healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships
- Monitor your child’s social media usage
- Make sure your teen’s social media profile is on private
- Learn about the resources out there
- Get help from a professional if you suspect that your teen is in an abusive relationship
If you are a parent or teacher worried about the wellbeing of a child, reach out for help, you do not have to face this alone.