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Dating: Keeping Your Teen Safe

Dating abuse is a serious issue that can touch the life of any teen. Adolescents of all races and income levels are at risk of being involved in an abuse relationship. Both males and females can be abused, and both males and females can be abusers.

We have previously talked about what makes a healthy relationship HERE and talked about different kinds of abuse and resources HERE.

Parents can be very important resources in preventing dating abuse and in helping teenagers remove themselves from abusive relationships.

What can you do to prevent dating abuse?

Here are some things you can do that may prevent your child from getting into an abusive relationship:

  • Model healthy relationships at home.

  • Talk with your teen, as early as possible, about healthy relationships and positive ways to resolve conflicts. Click HERE for tips on talking with your child about these topics.

  • Emphasize that abuse isn't about love.

  • Reinforce the importance of getting help if he or she is ever concerned about a dating partner.

  • Build your child's self-esteem.

  • Keep communication channels open.

What can you do if you know or suspect your child is in an abusive relationship?

The most important thing is to do something:

  • Take the situation seriously. The consequences of teen dating abuse can be as serious as adult domestic abuse.

  • Tell your child you believe and support them.

  • Help your teen develop a safety plan to keep them safe from the partner's abuse.

  • Practice tough love by setting boundaries, limits, and getting involved. Follow through on those limits.

  • Take legal action against the perpetrator. (Check with your local domestic violence crisis center)

  • Encourage your child to seek professional help at a local domestic violence crisis center.

  • For resources and hotlines, click HERE.

In the end, the decisions to end an abusive relationship resides with your teenager. If they are having difficulty leaving the relationship, you can still do all the things mentioned above, but it's even more important to express love, concern, and confidence and not try to control your child.

Above all, seek help. You can do this by talking with your child's school principal or teachers, your child's friends, or professionals at local organizations.

This information is adapted from the Safe Dates: An Adolescent Dating Abuse Prevention Curriculum by Vangie Foshee, Ph.D., and Stacey Langwick, Ph.D.

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