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Stop, Drop and Roll: 5 Tips to Keep Your Teen Safe in Dating Relationships

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Did you know that dating violence is a prevalent social issue impacting teens?

According to Love is Respect (2015)

  • Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year
  • Only 33% of teens who were in a violent relationship ever told anyone about the abuse
  • Eighty-one percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don't know if it's an issue

Given these alarming statistics, parents are encouraged to establish a safety plan before violence occurs, the same way you explained how to respond to a potential fire--Stop, Drop and Roll.

Using this same framework, consider sitting down with your teen(s) before they begin dating to discuss the differences between a healthy versus unhealthy relationship. Keep in mind teens often misinterpret controlling behavior as love, and may not notice these glaring red flags about their partner:

1. Makes Unsupported Accusations
2. Constantly Says Mean and Hurtful Statements
3. Displays Extreme Jealousy and Possessiveness
4. Excessively Calls, Emails and Texts
5. Isolates from Friends and Family
6. Discourages Participation in Extracurricular Activities
7. Lacks Respect for Boundaries
8. Checks and Monitors Cell Phone and Computer Activity
9. Perpetrates Violence Towards Others and Objects
10. Says " I Love You" Quickly

Be sure to review these warning signs with your teens, and then follow these five steps to create a personalized safety plan.

Step 1: Begin by generating a list of trusted adults that your teen can connect with during school hours. This might include administrators, teachers, coaches, counselors and school resource officers. Be sure to also include community resources, such as local domestic violence agencies. The Love is Respect hotline is another great resource that provides chat, text, and phone support 24/7.

Step 2: Encourage your teen to develop a code word that can be used with family members and friends. This same code word can be used with trusted adults to signal danger.

Step 3: Identify physical places your teen can go to escape from danger (e.g., friend, family, or neighbor's home). You will also want to cover specific routes your teen would take to and from school.

Step 4: Have your teen memorize important numbers, in the event they do not have access to their phone. Note: It is common for abusers to destroy the personal property of a victim or take away their phone.

Step 5: Remind your teen to not share passwords with their dating partner. Granting access could enable an abuser to install tracking software. Your teen will also want to avoid using check-ins and geo tags on social networks. These types of platforms could be used to monitor your teen's activity and perpetrate emotional/verbal abuse.

If your teen is already in a dating relationship and you suspect abuse, contact your local domestic violence agency to establish a more comprehensive plan.

Creating a safety plan with your teen before they begin dating increases the likelihood that they will reach out for support. More importantly, it can save a life.

To learn more about preventing dating violence in your community, visit drmoten.com to access a FREE mini course.

Reference

Love is Respect. (2015). Dating abuse statistics. Retrieved from http://www.loveisrespect.org/resources/dating-violence-statistics/