I'm Jess Holland, youth advocate with HELP of Door County, guest reporting for DoorCountyDailyNews.com. Today I'd like to talk about 5 ways that parents and other influential adults can help stop dating violence among teens.
Dating Violence, powerful behavior used to control a dating partner, is a public health concern affecting 1 in 3 teens. Parents need to talk to their children about dating at a young age so that they feel supported and expect healthy behavior in their relationships.
Here are 5 ways to begin:
1. Be a good role model. Teach children how to behave in their relationships by being respectful, egalitarian and loving in your own relationships. Also, don't be the parent who freaks out at the first mention of sex, underage drinking, or a fight. You'll just teach them not to mention these issues to you.
2. Stay vigilant. Even teens from high-income, suburban and rural families are exposed to surprising amounts of violence. Talk to your teens to find out the truth about their world.
3. Don't forget about online violence. Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to be cyberbullied through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Help your teens make informed choices about privacy setting and encourage them to keep passwords secret.
4. Think like a teen. Teens often feel invincible and eager to explore the adult world. "Don't let this happen to you" messages are developmentally inappropriate. They want things to happen. Know the red flags of abusive relationships, but don't lecture your kids on them. Instead, give them solutions in the form of problem-solving skills, technology know-how, and coping skills for new relationships.
5. Be ready to help. Show concern and listen when your teens want to talk. Speak up if you see someone using abusive language or threatening behavior, and, of course, don't make jokes or comments that demean individuals or groups.
Finally, all parents should know about available resources. Call HELP of Door County's 24 hour hotline for support at 743-8818.