Autumn has arrived which means it’s back to school time! Gone are the summer days full of long vacations, reading for fun, and lounging by the pool. Instead, parents & children are now concerned with football games, homework, school dances, peer pressure, and grades. Unfortunately, we can add one more thing to the list of things to worry about: dating violence. While the topic is rarely talked about, it is a legitimate concern seeing as 1 in 3 dating teens are expected to experience some form of dating abuse. As our children are returning to school, it’s important to be aware of the dangers that may accompany teen dating and recognize any signs of trouble that may already exist.
Young women aged 16-24 are more vulnerable to violence than any other age group, yet most teens and young adults have no idea that they are at such high risk. Before my time at Next Door Solutions, I had no idea just how prevalent dating violence truly was. I graduated from college just two years ago and looking back, it is possible that I missed some very telling signs of young people in trouble. I wish I had known then what I know now. Maybe then I could have helped share the idea that jealous is NOT a sign of his love for you and that just because he apologizes, doesn’t mean he won’t get aggressive again in the future.
It is so important that young women are armed with the knowledge that I may not have had. Admittedly, if my mother ever came to me and wanted to talk about engaging in safe dating practices, she probably would have been met with groans. However, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have listened to what she was saying. Starting a conversation on what constitutes as a healthy relationship not only helps women recognize signs of potential danger, but it will create a safe space where she feels comfortable sharing if someone does put her, or someone she knows, in harms way.
Besides creating a dialogue at home with our children, there are additional ways to raise awareness about teen dating violence. If you are a parent of a junior high or high school student, make an appointment to meet with their school principal and ask that some type of dating violence curriculum be implemented. According to Love Is Not Abuse, only 25% of schools teach about dating violence but in those schools, most students say they are able to identify the early signs of abuse. Parents can use all the help they can get when it comes to keeping our children safe, so let’s make sure our schools are doing their part in preventing teen dating violence.