Posted on May 4, 2015 by Bianca De León
Do you remember your first crush? The first time you held hands with that special someone? What about your first kiss? For most of us, these experiences were positive, maybe even romantic, and filled with newly discovered emotions as we explored this new phase of our sexuality. Adolescents and teens are beginning to explore those emotions in similar ways. It’s important for parents to understand this phase of their child’s development and find ways to communicate the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, especially with teen dating violence on the rise.
Teen dating violence is defined as the intentional use of physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse by a person to harm, threaten, intimidate, or control another person in a dating relationship. Statistics show that teens are experiencing teen dating violence at alarming rates.
Did you know?:
• Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year. • One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence. • One in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Unhealthy relationships for teens can lead to an increase of other risky behaviors such as use alcohol or drugs, multiple sexual partners, aggressive behavior or bullying, and eating disorders. Risky behaviors such as these can also have long term effects.
Parents can help protect their kids from dating violence by talking to their kids about healthy relationships. Studies show that kids prefer to have conversations about sexuality and relationships with their parents instead of with anyone else. These conversations should happen often to increase healthy relationship outcomes with their youth.
Family dinners have proven to be one of the most effective opportunities to talk to your kids. Here are some questions to start the conversation:
“Relationships are unique. What do you think makes a relationship good or bad?”
“Mutual respect should be a key part of healthy relationship. What can you do if you hear a friend being disrespectful towards another friend or someone they are dating?”
“What do your friends think or say about relationships?”
So the next time you sit down for dinner, trying talking to your kids about healthy relationships. Remember, by having on-going conversations with their kids about healthy relationships and sexuality, parents can help protect their kids from teen dating violence.
For more information on starting the conversation, visit www.twoshouldknow.org.
To get help for victims of teen dating violence, please call the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence at: 915-593-7300 or 1-800-727-0511
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