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Teen Dating Violence: Tips for Parents

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Parents Need to Know What's Going on

Romantic and sexual feelings develop during the teen years. Teenagers are starting to date and experiment with different types of relationships. It is fun and exciting to meet someone new, and sad and difficult to break up.

As a parent, you can help your teenager make good decisions about dating. With guidance and support, teens can learn about healthy relationships and get the strength and courage needed to leave those that are not.

There is no place for verbal or physical abuse in a healthy and respectful relationship.

Myths and Facts

MYTH : "Teen dating violence is just another way of saying rape."

FACT : Abuse comes in many forms. Besides sexual violence, it also includes:

MYTH: "Oh, it's not that common."

FACTS:

MYTH: "It only happens to kids from bad homes."

FACT:

Dating violence is not limited to families with a history of violence. It happens to teens from families of all cultures, income levels, and educational backgrounds.

MYTH: "It can't happen to my child."

FACTS:

Why Teens are Silent

There are many reasons why teens don't tell their parents or friends about the violence they are experiencing. They may:

Warning Signs of Abuse

Some of the following may be just part of being a teenager. But, when these changes happen suddenly or without explanation, there is cause for concern.

School

Attitude/mood

Physical appearance

Activities

Pregnancy

Abusive Behavior

It is important for you to recognize signs of an abusive relationship.

Your child needs help in either case—victim or abuser

Tips for Parents

Talk about healthy dating relationships and possible problems.

It is never too early or too late to teach about respect. Respect for self and others is important in any relationship.

If you think your teenager already may be involved with an abusive partner:

If your teenager tries to break up with an abusive partner:

What you can say

It is important for your teen to talk about dating violence, either with you or with another trusted adult. Many people who have been victims of dating violence have been able to change their lives after they began talking with others.