February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. The Alliance for Safe Kids wants you to know that there’s a lot you can do as a parent to prevent teen dating violence and abuse.
More than 1 in 10 teens who have been on a date have also been physically abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the last year. One of the most important things you can do is keep the lines of communication open with your kids.
While the following non-specific warning signs could indicate other concerning things such as depression or drug use, these should also raise a red flag for parents and adult caregivers about the possibility of an unhealthy relationship:
- no longer hanging out with his/her circle of friends
- wearing the same clothing
- distracted when spoken to
- constantly checking cell phone, gets extremely upset when asked to turn phone off
- withdrawn, quieter than usual
- angry, irritable when asked how they are doing
- making excuses for their boyfriend/girlfriend
- showering immediately after getting home
- unexplained scratches or bruises
Take steps to make a difference:
- Be a role model – treat your kids and others with respect.
- Start talking to your kids about healthy relationships early – before they start dating.
- Get involved with efforts to prevent dating violence at your teen’s school.
- If you are worried about your teen, call the National Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 or text “loveis” to 22522.