R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Teens and Tweens

February 5, 2010

One way to decrease the chances of teens being in an abusive relationship is to encourage kids to love themselves. Show teens respect. Let them know that it is important for other people to respect them as well. If siblings are disrespecting one another, bring attention to the behavior and try to stop it. Encouraging teens to respect family members, friends and others will help them to demand respect in their dating and personal relationships.

As hard as we try to talk to our teens, they will not always feel comfortable telling us when something is wrong. Look up local hotline numbers for teens. Make a list and give it to your child. Also, have a list taped to the refrigerator and the back of the teen’s bathroom door. Let the teen know that the numbers are available if they ever need them. This way, the hotline numbers will be accessible to your teen should they become involved in an abusive relationship. The teen hotline numbers can be a valuable tool in helping teens in a time of crisis.

Victims of teen dating violence often feel as though they deserve the abuse or that they will not be able to find anyone else if they break up with their abusive partner. They may have low self esteem or fail to recognize emotional abuse and think that it is perfectly normal. Remind your teen that they deserve respect in their relationships. It is important to emphasize to teens that they will have several relationships where they think they are in love and have found a special person. Explain to your teen that they are young and that they will have many opportunities to date.

Safety issues are a main concern. Aggression and anger can lead to serious intentional or accidental injuries. If the teen has unexplained bruises or marks, talk to them about what you suspect is going on in their relationship. You do not have to confront them with questions. Just talk to them about healthy dating relationships. This lets the teen know that you are available and concerned without putting the teen on the defensive. If the teen feels that they have to defend their relationship, they are less likely to break up with the violent partner.

Take care and STAY SAFE!

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