What Do You Think?
Here’s information about how to support your child:
The best time to talk to your kids about dating violence is before they start dating. Talking early and often with your kids gives you the chance to promote a positive message about what rights and responsibilities they have in a healthy relationship. Having these conversations often and from a young age can help your child’s self-respect so that when they start dating, they know what they have a right to expect from their partners.
Some tips include:
- Listen to what your child has to say and ask questions without judging.
- Keep an open mind and remember what it was like when you were a teen.
- Encourage your teen to talk with other trusted adults like a counselor.
- Set limits! Express your concerns to your child, set rules together, and consistently reinforce and remind your child of why you have established a rule.
- Get help and educate yourself by speaking to school staff, other trusted community members, or by visiting the websites in our resource section.
Less than 25% of teens say that they have discussed dating violence with their parents, but 1 in 3 teens have experienced some form of dating violence. Relationship abuse is when one partner tries to take power/control over another partner.
Here are some common examples of what teen dating violence might look like.
- Verbal Abuse can include name calling, put downs and threats.
- Emotional Abuse can include extreme jealousy, blaming, going through personal items without permission, isolation and stalking.
- Physical Abuse can include slapping, punching, kicking, pinching, pushing, pulling hair, using objects or weapons to harm.
- Sexual Abuse can include unwanted kissing or touching, pressure or threats to do sexual acts, or trying to control decisions related to birth control.
- Financial abuse can include controlling money or belongings, and destruction of property.
- Cyber or Digital Abuse can include excessive calling, texting or emailing, monitoring social media pages, texts or emails to see who the person is speaking to, hacking into accounts, and threats of sharing personal and often sexual photos.
If you think your child may be in an unhealthy relationship, you can call the Teen Dating Abuse Hotline: 1 (866) 331-9474 or text loveis to 22522.
Some effects of domestic violence exposure in children include: low self-esteem, depression, shame, fear, anger, difficulty concentrating, poor grades, and truancy. Plus, children who witness domestic violence between caregivers are at greater risk for being in unhealthy relationships in the future.
Here are some things you can do if you are concerned about how your relationship might be impacting your child:
Be a healthy role model. While you may not have control over your partner or ex-partner, you do have control over yourself. You can model healthy ways of coping with tough subjects and feelings. You can also model self-care and establishing safe boundaries.
Open communication. Create a safe space without judgement for your child to talk to you about what is going on for them.
Seek support. You may need some external help to keep yourself and your child safe or to cope with past history of abuse. This might look different for each person, however, we would recommend talking to a social service professional to support you in navigating this. You can talk to your school counselors, a therapist, or call a local or national hotline.
Link your child to healthy resources. Children learn what they live. Support your child in ending the cycle of violence by getting them extra support. Sometimes in order to learn how to deal with their emotions and experience in healthy ways, it can be helpful for them to receive counseling and other supportive resources. Your child having a safe and healthy connection with a trusted adult outside of the home can empower them in the healing process.
Allow your child to engage and participate in safe and healthy programs offered at your school or in your community. One of the strongest resiliency factors for youth who experience trauma is participating in extracurricular activities that build positive connections with mentors and peers, as well as, self-esteem. If your child loves sports, music, art, or wants to join a club at school, these are all great ways for them to develop a stronger self-esteem and sense of connectedness. Sometimes when kids misbehave, we want to take away these things, however, because participating in these extracurricular activities can help kids with coping, we would recommend that you find a different consequence (i.e. taking away their phone or TV time) before resorting to this.
Youth today communicate in very different ways than their parents and even their older siblings. Online and digital communication is an integral part of their lives, and a focal point of their social engagement. Young teens look to their parents and the other adults in their lives for guidance as they establish behavior patterns, especially about relationships.