February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. It is appalling to realize that this awareness is even necessary, but the news shows and social media tell the sad stories. Like all other types of abuse, dating violence does not depend on age, race, sex, or creed. Abuse is abuse in any and every language and it should never be tolerated or accepted. But this month we want to bring attention to the teen abuse.
According to the CDC, teen violence is defined as
“…the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence within a dating relationship, including stalking. It can occur in person or electronically and might occur between a current or former dating partner. Several different words are used to describe teen dating violence. Below are just a few.
Intimate partner violence
Teen violence, although not new, because of the prevalent use of social media, no longer has to take place in person or close proximity. Now, subject and abuser can be across the street, the state or across the nation, yet affect our teens directly.
Now for the stats. Over 1 million high schoolers are abused by a partner they are dating. And what’s worse, most parents have never discussed teen violence with their children.
Awareness needs to be brought to the forefront so that no other parent has to bury a child at their own hand or someone else’s. We have to break the silence at home, first, by discussing teen violence with our children before they are exposed. Give them the knowledge and therefore the tools to identify possible violence and protect themselves if ever faced with that situation.
Make your children aware, especially in this area of electronics and social media, that teen violence is not always physical, but often is (or begins with) emotional abuse. Neither physical or emotional abuse should be overlooked, however, the emotional abuse is often masked. It is masked by the abuser as simply “caring” or being “over-protective”. As parents and caregivers, we must be vigilant and tuned into these and other dangerous behaviors.
There are resources out there ready to provide assistance with the discussion. Break the Cycle and the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence are two resources that have been bringing attention to this matter for years. (Other resources listed below)
In the electronic world that we live in where everyone has access to the web, there are tools to help. So encourage the young people around you to check out these apps:
- Circle of 6
- On Watch
- One Love Foundation
- Love Is Not Abuse
Check out the video below…