February Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
By Yohanna Mendez, LMHC
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Whittier Street Health Center wants you to know that there’s a lot you can do as a parent to prevent teen dating violence and abuse.
Dating abuse is a public health issue that affects people from all ages, backgrounds, and identities. Recent stories in the media and movements like #metoo have brought to light that there is still much work that needs to be done in preventing sexual violence and abuse in our society. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 young people experience some form of physical or sexual violence for the first time before the age of 25.
It is important for you to educate your teen that whether it’s casual, serious, or even a friendship it is important to feel RESPECTED, SAFE and HEARD in all types of relationships. Start by being a role model- treat your kids with respect so they grow to expect that from other relationships. Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about healthy relationships early- BEFORE they start dating. Don’t worry that talking to them early will rush them into dating- it won’t but it will, however, create a good foundation for open communication with you.
Here are some tips you can share with your teen on the keys to a healthy relationship from Break the Cycle:
- Open Communication: It’s important to be able to express how you feel and listen to the other person. This is a huge part of ALL relationships.
- Trust and Support: Being able to rely on someone else can make you feel safe and secure. You should expect and DESERVE honesty and support.
- Fairness: Relationships are fifty- fifty. Each person should be willing to compromise and listen to the other.
- Freedom: Both people should be able to have their own hobbies, likes, outside friends and time alone. Everyone needs a little space sometimes to recharge. KNOW that you have the right to be free!
- Boundaries: Each person has the right to decide what they are okay with. This includes physical stuff, how often you talk to your partners, and even your social media passwords. If you don’t like it when your partner texts and calls too much or doesn’t give you alone time, you have the RIGHT to speak up!!
Let your teen know that if any of the keys listed above are missing from their relationships it is a warning sign. Share with them that if something is happening that doesn’t feel okay they should talk to someone they trust- even if it isn’t you! There is help and support available!
If you are worried about your teen, call the National Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 or text “love is” to 22522.
You can also speak with your Pediatrician at the next visit. Support is available in the clinic.
The theme for February 2018 Teen DV Awareness Month is Healthy Me! Healthy We!
Encourage your teen to be part of this movement towards self-love, strength, and positivity because when we take time to cultivate healthy love for ourselves, we can bring those positive attributes and healthy love to all of our relationships, including those with our family and friends.
You can help keep your loved ones safe and healthy.
- We hosted a Healthy Relationship Workshop in partnership with Sociedad Latina on February 15, 2018 from 4:30pm to 6:30pm. There were about 25 teens in attendance and ready to discuss how to manage relationships. The teens had a great time hearing from each other on topics such as what is too much texting as well as is jealousy okay? Please look towards the Whittier website to know of future upcoming teen events. For more information, visit org
- If you are looking for more information on Teen DV you can also visit breakthecycle.org
Remember: “You are ALWAYS worthy of a love that builds you up- especially a love from yourself.”