As the parent of a teenager, one of the things you need to make sure of is that your teen understands the very possible reality of teenage dating violence. As scary as it may be, this is becoming and increasingly common issue among young people today. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that this type of behavior isn’t common in teens, it is, as a matter of fact it’s been recently discovered that one in three teens will encounter some sort of violence during their teen dating years.
While you can’t completely protect your kids, there are many things that you can do that may help them avoid this type of situation in the first place:
1. For one thing, talk to your kid even before they hit the teenage years, do everything in your power to let them know they are a wonderful human being and give them the strength and self confidence to stand up for themselves. Always keep the lines of communication open so that your teen knows that they can come to you with a problem and they won’t be chastised or made to feel foolish just because they made a mistake. Let them know that making mistakes is what helps us grow and that you know they will make the right decisions more often than not, but on those rare occasions when they don’t, let them know you love them and have their back.
This isn’t a guarantee that they won’t fall in with the wrong type of person, but you’d be surprised at how much your admiration of them and belief in them can help them make good decisions even when you’re not around.
2. Explain to your teens what is considered appropriate behavior and what isn’t. For example, when someone is dating the school ‘jock’ they may think it’s romantic if he is overly possessive or jealous. Make sure your teens knows that there is nothing romantic about that type of behavior and that that type of behavior is abuse and your teen doesn’t have to put up with it.
Other forms of behavior that often will escalate into physical violence are: mocking, manipulating, playing games, flirting with others, being late for dates or not calling when they say they will, etc. Basically bad behavior of any sort should be considered a danger sign and your teen needs to know that if they see any of this in their relationship, especially in the beginning, that they should stop seeing that person right away.
3. Explain to your teens about date rape drugs and how easy it is for someone to dump some in their drink and what impact such as drug can have on their judgment.
4. And let your teen know that they will meet mostly good people and they don’t have to go through life feeling afraid. Just let them know that if a person or a situation doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t and they should trust their judgment and watch out for warning signs.
Protecting your teen from teenage dating violence is something that every parent needs to be proactive about. The best thing you can do for your kid is to raise them with a strong sense of what they consider appropriate behavior and what isn’t appropriate and the self confidence to distance them self from anyone that doesn’t live by the same code of conduct.