NDSU Extension - Mercer County


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Healthy Teen Relationships

healthy teen relationships, Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, teen dating violence, dating violence

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Community Wellness

February is a time best known for Valentine’s Day and romance. February is also designated by Congress as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Discussions about the rising epidemic of teen dating violence are not only encouraged, but embraced. These discussions focus on the physical, sexual, and psychological abuses that are present in relationships between teenagers across the country. If you are the parent of a teenager, take the initiative this February to speak with your teen about teen dating violence.

During adolescence, young people learn how to form safe and healthy relationships with friends, parents, teachers, and romantic partners. Both adolescent males and females often try on different identities and roles during this time, and relationships contribute to their development. Peers, in particular, play a big role in identity formation, but relationships with caring adults – including parents, mentors, and coaches – are also important for adolescent development. Often, the parent-adolescent relationship is the one that informs how a young person handles other relationships. Unfortunately, adolescents sometimes develop unhealthy relationships and experience or exhibit bullying or dating violence.

Not all forms of abuse are physical. Emotional and psychological abuse are common and can cause victims to suffer irreparable harms. Examples of behaviors that may be considered emotionally abusive include:

  • Name calling,
  • Belittling,
  • Stalking,
  • Preventing a dating partner from having contact with others,
  • Body shaming, and
  • Controlling social media and communication.

Dating violence is more common than many people think. Studies show one in three high school students experience either physical or sexual violence, or both, that is perpetrated by someone they are dating or going out with.

Dating violence is preventable especially if education about healthy relationships starts early. This month and beyond we want educators, parents and community leaders along with middle, high school and college students, to creatively promote messages about dating violence prevention and raise awareness of what a healthy relationship looks like.

Data shows that interpersonal violence is experienced by nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide each year and nearly half (43%) of all college women and one third (28%) of college men report having experienced either abuse or controlling behaviors in a dating relationship.

Throughout the month of February, participants are encouraged to write blogs about healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, shoot videos about what healthy relationships look like.

Talking to your kids about sensitive issues in their lives can be difficult, especially when the conversation moves to their romantic relationships. However, the consequences of teen dating violence can be serious and pose a risk to the health, safety, and well-being of your child.

Providing adolescents with tools to start and maintain healthy relationships (with romantic partners as well as peers, employers, teachers, and parents) may have a positive influence on young people's overall development.

You can help to prevent teen dating violence by engaging in meaningful conversations with your kids. Take a few moments this February to talk about these important issues with your teens, listen for signs that they may be affected by teen dating violence, and let them know that you are there for them.

Source: www.teendvmonth.org

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