Domestic violence isn’t just a problem that affects adult relationships, it also exists in teen relationships and is considered by the Center for Disease Control to be widespread. This is a difficult situation for parents, since it comes at a time when kids want their privacy, communicate less, and may try to hide things from you. Violence in early relationships is something that is far beyond children’s maturity levels, and it takes strong and vigilant adults to notice what is happening and to intervene.
Helping Your Teen Through Dating Violence
- Address violence in your own relationships through counseling, classes, or legal intervention. Domestic violence is “cyclical”, which means that children who are exposed to domestic violence have a higher likelihood to be in violent relationships themselves. This is because violence becomes normalized and modeled as an aspect of adult relationships during a formative time in children’s development.
- Talk to your teen. Try to communicate with your children about what separates healthy relationships from unhealthy ones. Open up to your teenager about your own relationship struggles when you were young, how you coped with these struggles, and how you resolved them. If you are approachable and relatable, your children may find it easier to come to you for help if they have concerning experiences in their relationships.
- Look out for the many signs that your teenager is in a violent relationship. The more obvious signs of an abusive relationship are minor to major injuries that are unusual for your child. You should also be aware of sudden changes in their moods, or their behavior.
- Get help. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, call the police, contact a local domestic violence organization, or seek a protective order. In addition, you can speak with your child’s school to help safety plan at the place where your child spends most of every weekday.
You can save your child’s life with vigilance, and can also help them learn how to develop positive relationships and end negative ones.