Teen Dating Violence: Are You Talking to your Teen?

February is a big month—in addition to Black History Month, which we discussed last week, it is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

Do you have a teen or soon-to-be teen in your life?

Have you talked to them about healthy relationships?

If you have, good on ya’! Keep it up—believe it or not, your teens want to hear from you.

Odds are, however, that you haven’t—or at least not enough. In fact the research from Harvard’s Making Caring Common Project reveals that:

  • 70% of 18-25-year-olds wish they had received more information from their parents about healthy relationships.

  • Although rates of sexual assault among young people are high—1 in 5 women report having been sexually assaulted during college—61% of teens and young adults have never had a conversation about the importance of not pressuring a partner into having sex.

  • Sex education classes in schools tend to focus on abstinence or “disaster prevention” (pregnancy, STIs, etc.) but do not teach kids the cornerstones of a healthy relationship—and 65% of our kids want that information from educators!

According to the Harvard research, “large numbers of teens and young adults are unprepared for caring, lasting, romantic relationships and are anxious about developing them,“ and they want them—84% of teens would prefer a loving, serious relationship over a “hook-up.” But they don’t know how.

It’s simply not enough to raise “good kids.”

Good kids can make disastrous and harmful mistakes.

We can’t assume that they know what to do or what not to do.

It’s up to us as parents to guide them,

teach them, and help them find their way through the murkiness of dating with respect as the foundation.

Next week we’ll focus on consent and what it really means, but to get the conversation started this week, I invite you to share some signs of an unhealthy relationship with the tweens and teens in your life.

Do the teens in your life know these concerning signs of an unhealthy relationship? According to Love is Respect, these are some of the concerning signs they need to be on the lookout for:

  • Monitoring someone’s phone, email, or social media accounts

  • Putting them down frequently, especially in front of others.

  • Isolating them from their support system of friends or family physically, emotionally, or financially.

  • Extreme jealousy, insecurity, or neediness.

  • Explosive outbursts, temper, or mood swings.

  • Any form of physical harm.

  • Possessiveness or controlling behavior.

  • Pressuring them or forcing them to engage in sexual activity.

  • How they feel while they are in the relationship—does it make them feel hopeful, self-confident and caring, or does it make them feel worried or depressed?

As adults with more years and (hopefully) wisdom under our belts, these signs may seem obviously concerning. But as a teen with less than two decades on the planet, they may not.

Our kids want these conversations.

They need these conversations.

It’s up to us to start them, and to have them again and again—and then again.

Need help? You can now access my training Talking Consent with Teens online! The workshop covers everything from how to talk about relationships and consent and build a child’s confidence in saying “no” to sexting and how to help our teens navigate the world of drugs and alcohol.

To get access that training now and the accompanying 5-page handout for only $17.00 CLICK HERE.