Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

February, the month in which Valentine's Day lands, is undoubtedly a fitting time to recognize that romantic relationships are not all candy hearts and butterflies. Tragically, 1 out of 10 teens who have been out on a date in the last year have been physically abused by their boyfriend or girlfriend. 

As a caring adult, you may have a number of guidelines in place about teen dating. Perhaps you discourage the child in your care from dating in their teen years at all. However, if you are parenting or mentoring teens who are dating, there are some basic signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships that you can share with them. By keeping these characteristics in mind, they (or you) may be better equipped to discern that a relationship is not worth pursuing and may even be a danger.

Signs of a Healthy Relationship

  • Respecting boundaries: Do they understand that "yes" means yes and "no" means no? 
  • Honesty: Are they truthful?
  • Trust: Do they show up when they say they will? Do they keep your confidences?
  • Generous: Are they interested in doing what you want to do? Do they value your opinions? Do they treat other people besides you with dignity and respect?
  • Good communication: Do they talk to you when there is a problem? Do they listen to you when you want to discuss something?

Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship

Do they ever:

  • Insult you or others, using mean or nasty language?
  • Criticize your looks or otherwise demean you?
  • Act possessive, keeping you from fostering other friendships?
  • Act physically violent (hitting, slapping, etc.) or get so angry that they can barely refrain from being violent?
  • Push your boundaries in other ways you aren't comfortable with?

For many teens, these years are ones where they learn a lot of lessons, both in friendships and in dating relationships. Having your guidance is essential. Last tip: let them know that they can always, always come to you if someone isn't treating them well, they are confused, or don't know what to do. Even if they don't seem receptive at the moment, it's important for them to know that they can come to you!

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What is Your Opinion?

Do you see snakes frequently where you are?