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Teen Dating, Info for Parents

Posted: February 28, 2024
February is known for being the month associated with love.  Navigating romantic feelings at any age can be a challenge.  We all want to find that special person that we have a connection with, the one who “completes” us.
 
Dating as a teen has added challenges. At a young age, teens are still trying to figure out what their feelings mean, who they are, and what kind of person they are looking to spend time with.  That is why in February, we recognize National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.  This is an issue that impacts not only teens, but their parents, teachers, friends and communities as well.
 
Youth ages 12-19 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault with 10% of adolescents reporting being the victim of physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner. Teens who experience dating violence are more likely to suffer long-term behavioral and health consequences including suicide, eating disorders and substance abuse. Teen dating violence can also lead to experiencing domestic violence into adulthood.
 
Everyone can make a difference during Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Reaching out to the young people in your life is a simple way to take a stand against teen dating violence. 
 
You can create a positive connection to the issue of dating by modeling and talking about the characteristics of a healthy relationship. Create dialogue about how the media portrays healthy and unhealthy relationships and what types of behaviors should not be romanticized. Also, discuss the warning signs of dating abuse. For example:
  • Checking your cell phone without your permission
  • Consistent put downs
  • Extreme jealousy or insecurity
  • Explosive temper
  • Isolating you from your friends and family
  • Making false accusations
  • Mood swings
  • Physically hurting you in any way
  • Possessiveness
  • Telling you what you need to do 
 
If you know of a teen or parent that could benefit from speaking to a caring, well-trained peer advocate, please connect them with the National Dating Abuse Helpline, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, at 1-866-331-9474 (TTY: 1-866-331-8453), by texting "loveis" to 77054, or through live chat at loveisrespect.org.
 
The Beacon Center in Watertown is another great resource for those experiencing violence from an intimate partner.  Whether it is an adult or youth, they have a variety of programs available.  Check out www.beaconcentersd.com/ or call 605-886-4304 to learn more. If you are outside of the Watertown area, visit www.helplinecenter.org/2-1-1/ to find resources in your area.
 
 By Stephanie Kinnander, Prevention Specialist, Northeast Prevention Resource Center