Teen dating violence is not one of the topics that a lot of parents think to cover with their child. You cover stranger Danger, drugs, STD’s, having “the talk” about sex, and other topics that they need to be aware of. However, this is now more then ever a talk that you need to have with your teen. One in three teens are subjected to dating violence but are not making you aware that it’s going on. They believe that it will stop or it’s their fault it’s happening.
If you have a teen it’s time to have a talk with them about dating violence. You want to make sure that they are aware it does happen and what to do if they experience dating violence. You want to open that communication with your teen so they feel comfortable to come to you and discuss it if they are a victim of dating violence.
“I knew to talk with Jen about alcohol, drugs, sex and all those other parenting talks, but I never knew I had to teach her about dating violence,” said Drew Crecente, whose 18-year-old daughter was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. “I did not realize that it was such a pervasive issue at such a young age.”
In fact, 81 percent of parents either do not believe that TDV is a problem – or do not know if it is a problem or not.
In an effort to combat this epidemic, Crecente founded Jennifer Ann’s Group to increase awareness about teen dating violence, as well as provide educational information to help teens, tweens, and young adults identify and avoid abusive relationships through free educational video games.
“Parents have a largely underrated influence in preventing TDV, and it begins with a sit-down conversation, but knowing what to say and how to say it is also important,” says Crecente.
1.Encourage open, honest, and thoughtful reflection. Talk openly with your teen about healthy relationships. Allow them to articulate his or her values and expectations for healthy relationships. Rather than dismissing ideas as wrong, encourage debate, which helps young people come to his or her own understanding.
2.Be sensitive and firm. Parenting a teen is not an easy task, especially when it comes to helping him or her navigate their way through relationships. To be effective, you will need to find the balance between being sensitive and firm. Try to adapt to the changes faced by your child. Be willing to talk openly and respect differences of opinion. Realize that the decisions you make will sometimes be unpopular with your teen – that’s okay.
3.Understand teen development. Adolescence is all about experimentation. From mood swings to risk taking, “normal teenage behavior” can appear anything-but-normal. New research, however, reveals that brain development during these formative years play a significant role in young teen’s personality and actions. Knowing what’s “normal” is critical to helping you better understand and guide young people.
4.Understand the pressure and the risk teen’s face. Preteens and young teens face new and increasing pressures about sex, substance abuse and dating. Time and time again, young teens express their desire to have parents/role models take the time to listen to them and help them think through the situations they face – be that person!
5.Take a clear stand. Make sure young teen knows how you feel about disrespect, use of abusive or inappropriate language, controlling behavior or any forms of violence.
6.Make the most of “teachable moments”. Use video games, TV episodes, movies, music lyrics, news, community events or the experiences of friends to discuss healthy and unhealthy relationships.
7.Discuss how to be an ‘upstander’. Teach teens how to stand-up for friends when he or she observes unhealthy treatment of his or her peers.
8.Accentuate the positive. Conversations about relationships do not need to focus solely on risky behavior or negative consequences. Conversations should also address factors that promote healthy adolescent development and relationships.
9.Be an active participant in your young teen’s life. Explore ways to know more about your teen’s friends and interests. Find activities you can do together.
10.Be prepared to make mistakes. You will make mistakes. Accept that you will make mistakes, but continue to help teens make responsible choices while trying to maintain that delicate balance of being sensitive, yet firm.