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Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month: Talking to teens about fostering healthy relationships

Teen years are marked by increasing awareness about oneself, finding an identity of one’s own and the growing need to be loved and cared for. But sometimes, the emotional and physical need to be close to someone can be intimidating for the loved one. Dating a partner can turn into a violent and unpleasant experience.

As per a national survey reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 10 percent of high school students suffered physical abuse in the 12 months prior to the survey and approximately 11 percent reported to have endured sexual violence in their relationships. Teens exposed to violence in school can become victims in college and in later life as well. Moreover, exposure to violence in a close relationship can turn teens toward substance abuse, resulting in physical and mental health problems.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is observed in February when activists, community leaders, local and national organizations carry out programs to disseminate awareness about the prevalence of violence in the teen dating world and educating about ways in which it can be mitigated and healthy relationships can be fostered.

Parental tips to help children overcome teen dating violence

It becomes increasingly necessary for parents, teachers and caregivers to discuss about the importance of having healthy relationships in life so that a teen understands the importance of setting boundaries and raise their voice when the boundaries are crossed. But for some parents, it can be a daunting task to strike the right conversation.

Here are some helpful tips for them to get started:

  • Defining a healthy relationship: It is important to explain the mechanics of a healthy relationship to teens. A loving relationship is one where both the partners have love and respect for each other. The relationship should strengthen trust and facilitate frank communication. Both the partners have a life outside dating and it should be mutually admirable and acceptable to both.
  • Discussing about different types of abuse: It is important that a teen knows about different types of abuse before entering a relationship. Physical form of an abuse surfaces when a partner uses physical force on the other person like hitting, pushing or kicking, whereas sexual abuse is one where a person is exploited sexually through forced or unsafe sex. Emotional abuse surfaces when a person starts manipulating the partner psychologically like emotional blackmailing, isolation, intimidation, etc. On the other hand, when a person uses money to control someone, it can be termed financial abuse. These days, even digital media is exploited to scare someone by posting photos, videos or comments. Stalking is also a form of abuse where one is followed or watched over continuously.
  • Differentiating between lust, infatuation and love: It is important for a teen to understand the difference between lust, infatuation and love. Lust arises from purely physical or sexual attraction. Infatuation develops suddenly and gives goose bumps while interacting with a person deeply admired or respected. Love is a different ball game as it takes time to be nurtured.
  • Talking about physical intimacy realistically: The elders must talk to teens about sex in the most realistic manner. Young children must be taught about the pros and cons of having sex, values and ethics, and importance of personal views and relationships. It is also important that teens understand the concept of safe sex and contraception.
  • Extending support: The teens are bound to feel more confident about their dating life if they have their parents’ support. Picking them up or dropping them off at the venue or lending an ear to them when they have some questions or are in distress can greatly help mitigate their dating anxieties.

Other support resources

Sometimes, despite several attempts, parents might fail in communicating with the teen about such a topic or doesn’t know how to initiate the conversation. On the other hand, despite talking, a teen might continue to suffer and suffocate within the relationship. In such a scenario, it is best to institute professional intervention to help the child give vent to his/her emotions and seek effective solutions to the problem.

If you have a loved one in the family who is struggling with dating violence and is suffering from any mental health condition, seek immediate help from a credible rehab center. Sovereign Health is a leading behavioral health provider in the United States with state-of-the-art facilities across the country. If you are looking for the finest mental health rehab facility, help is just a call away. To know more about our various mental health treatment programs or regular events, call our 24/7 helpline 855-969-5557 or chat online for a quick response.

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