Dating violence is all too common for many teenagers and young adults today. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 10 teens report being intentionally hit or physically abused by a dating partner at least once in the last 12 months. And nearly 50 percent of all young people say they know friends who have been verbally abused by a dating partner.
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and it’s a good reminder to parents to check in with their student and make sure they are involved in safe dating relationships.
Most dating relationships begin and end (relatively) harmlessly, albeit a broken heart or two, but here are a few danger signs to look out for, when something other than teen drama may be at stake.
Obsession and Possession
Some teenagers, when involved in their first relationship, may become obsessive and possessive of their dating partner. If your student has lost interest in hanging out with other friends, seems anxious when their significant other is not around, and constantly has to check in with their girlfriend or boyfriend or needs to check up on them, they may be in an obsessive relationship.
Whether your son or daughter is the one being obsessive or is in a relationship with a possessive partner, this behavior is extremely unhealthy. It can lead to a decrease in academic performance, increase in anxiety or depressive tendencies, and emotional problem. Talk to your son or daughter about the healthiness of their relationship. Encourage time apart and spending time in other activities or with other friends. If there is stalking involved, or you think there may be more intense or dangerous controlling and possessive behaviors happening, you may want to seek outside help.
According to, Teen Dating Violence.org, one quarter of high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse or date rape. You can help your student avoid this by talking to them about this issue.
Just as important as talking to your teenager about safe sex practices, talk to them about consent. A “maybe” or “if you really want to” or even silence is not a “yes.” Talk to your teenagers about saying no and being resistant to coercion, and how to get help if he or she is being abused or pressured into doing things they don’t want to do.
Talk to your son about respecting women and that the violence he sees presented in the media is not “normal” or healthy behavior. Does your daughter’s boyfriend not seem to want to be around his girlfriend’s parents or family? Does your daughter seem ashamed or embarrassed when talking about him, or tries not to talk about him at all? Is there evidence of sexual conduct taking place – closed doors, birth control, or avoidance of family? Talk to your son or daughter and make sure that they understand what constitutes as sexual abuse, and that whatever contact that is taking place is completely consensual and practiced safely.
Online Dating and Dating Apps
When individuals are in their teens, it is important for them to date people they know in real life, not someone they met on the internet. Many young people are naïve to the dating world and easily manipulated into meeting dangerous people, getting into dangerous situations, and being coerced into doing things that make them uncomfortable. Look for signs that your son or daughter is using online dating sites and apps to find potential partners. Predators target teenagers online because of their inexperience and susceptibility to flattery, believing lies, and giving out personal information. Encourage your son or daughter to date those their own age that they know from school or after school activities, where power is not so much at play. Save the online dating for adult life, when they have more experience and know what to watch out for.
Above all, trust your instincts and be open to talking to your teenager about their dating life and questions or concerns they may have. The more communication happens, the less likely one of these problems will pass through unnoticed.
- What Parents Need to Know About Dating Violence (doorwaysarizona.com)
- How to Help Your Teens Develop Healthy Relationships (doorwaysarizona.com)
- 8 Text Acronyms Teens Use Behind Your Back – Busted! (doorwaysarizona.com)