How can adults help stop teens they know from becoming victims of dating violence? Our educators can help.
One in 10 teens has been physically hit on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year, according to a national survey of teens. That’s outrageous, but what can parents and other adults do to help stop it?
We asked PPINK educators Lizzy and Taylor, who work with teenagers every day, to share their tips.
1) Talk about healthy relationships. Young people begin learning at an early age how to peacefully resolve conflicts, so as kids get older, it makes sense to build on those skills. Even if you don’t want your middle-schooler dating, some of their peers probably are starting to date. It’s a good time to make sure they hear directly from you what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior, rather than take their cues from what they see around them.
2) Break the cycle.
When we work with teenagers, too often we hear, “Well, I can fix him/her,” or “if he/she is jealous, it just means they love me.” Wrong. Kids have different ideas of what are healthy and unhealthy behaviors in relationships. Adults can help them dispel these myths and break the cycle by explaining – and modeling – healthy behaviors. Not sure how to do this? News stories and even TV and movies can provide examples to talk about.
3) Breaking up is hard to do.
Any unhealthy relationship has the potential to turn into a dangerous one. If your teen is in an unhealthy relationship, talk with him or her about how to end it. If you are concerned for your child’s safety, have a safety plan in place. If you or your child is in immediate danger, always call 911—and if you’re in Indiana, make sure your teen knows it’s possible to text 911 if a phone call can’t be made.
4) Your teen is listening.
Teens may not always show it, but studies prove that they are listening when parents talk to them, particularly about sex. Not only that, they need you to talk to them—young people who say they feel a lack of parental warmth, love, or caring are also more likely to report emotional distress, lower self-esteem, school problems, drug use, and sexual risk behaviors.
5) Get help if you need it.
Yes, there are actually classes that young people and adults who care for them can take to learn how to have healthy relationships. All PPINK educators are trained on Safe Dates, the only evidence-based dating violence prevention curriculum, and can lead sessions for groups of teens or adults on how to keep teens from being one of the 10 percent of people who say they’ve been hit by a boyfriend or girlfriend. To learn more, contact us at 317.637.4343.
Or, check out these resources:
Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Healthy Relationships and Social Skills
Virginia Beall Ball Library – Indiana Youth Institute
Kentucky Domestic Violence Association
The Center for Women and Families
PACT in Action
Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK) provides high-quality health care to more than 55,000 men and women each year at our health centers across two states. Our centers are staffed by skilled clinicians and highly trained health care professionals. 93% of our nonprofit’s services are preventive in nature and include Pap tests, breast and testicular cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment, and annual wellness exams. Through the Sara and Albert Reuben Partners in Health Education initiative, PPINK also provides sexuality and reproductive health education programs, equipping people to make responsible decisions so that families thrive in Indiana and Kentucky.
PPINK’s doors are open to all who need care and we provide our services in a confidential, compassionate and non-judgmental manner. We accept Medicaid and insurance.