Posted by 11th grade TeenSafe Advisors Sasha, Annie, Ella, and Rebecca
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. We encourage you to talk to your teens about healthy relationships and to think about what to do if they or their friends feel unsafe or not able to make their own choices because of someone they are dating.
What would you do if you found yourself in one of these situations?
- Your teen is crying and says it's about her boyfriend but she won't tell you any details. During your conversation you notice bruises on her arms.
- You overhear your teen's friend say they never spend time together because your teen is always with his girlfriend. Your teen seems offended by the comment and defensive in his response.
- You notice your teen is changing her style drastically over the period of the time she has been dating her girlfriend. When you ask about it, your teen tells you it is just part of growing up.
Unhealthy and/or abusive behavior in teen relationships is a complicated issue. Talking to teens about it is even trickier. As members of the TeenSafe Advisors group, we would like to offer the following suggestions for adults who want to talk to their teens about their concerns.
- Make this a conversation, not a confrontation.
- Let your teen know about the changes you observed and why you are concerned.
- Listen to your teen to find out how she feels about what's going on.
- Encourage your teen to consider all options to ensure his health and safety (including ending the relationship).
- Reassure your teen that you are on her side. Offer to help connect her with professionals in the community who can help.
Abuse is a pattern of behaviors that one partner uses to gain and maintain control over another. It is not just physical but also mental, emotional, verbal, sexual, cultural, or financial. We encourage you to be aware of what is going on in your teen's relationship and give your teen the opportunity to talk to you about it.
In recognition of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, follow JF&CS on Twitter to view our #TeenSafe Twitter campaign. For general information and support, contact JF&CS Journey to Safety at 781-647-JFCS (5327). Read additional tips on talking to teens about dating abuse and learn more about the issue.
Funded by a generous grant from the Boston Jewish Community Women's Fund, TeenSafe uses a peer education model to inform and educate teens on the issues of teen dating, healthy relationships, and teen dating abuse.