February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, an event that draws attention to the prevalence of teen dating abuse and the importance of healthy relationships. Being aware of the signs of abuse and learning about safe and respectful dating habits can help teens build positive relationships during a crucial time of life.
The stark reality is that teen dating violence is all too common. One in three teens experiences dating abuse, which is one too many. That translates to 1.5 million high school students reporting some kind of physical abuse from a dating partner every year. As teens are just beginning to form ideas about dating through the relationships they form in high school, it’s more important than ever to teach them about healthy habits early.
Teens experience dating abuse the same way adults do, and it reaches every age, class and gender. Dating violence can particularly affect teens moving forward in life, since those who have experienced it are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, do poorly in school, and attempt suicide.
It can be difficult to tell if a relationship is unhealthy, especially for teens who might be just starting to navigate dating life. However, there are some warning signs that can help. These are just a few ways you or your teen can identify unhealthy dating habits:
Checking cell phones, emails or social networks without permission
Extreme jealousy or insecurity
Constant belittling or put-downs
Isolation from family and friends
Making false accusations
Erratic mood swings
Physically inflicting pain or hurt in any way
Telling someone what to do
Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex
Dating violence is real and it is happening in every high school and on every college campus across the country. But we can work together to end the violence by starting a dialogue about healthy relationships. This February 12th, you can show your support for safe and respectful dating habits by wearing the color orange. You can learn more about #Orange4Love day, and how to identify the signs of dating abuse by visiting loveisrespect.org, or breakthecycle.org.
DOVE Center also provides educational seminars to teenagers at area middle and high schools, as well as at Dixie State University. The seminar addresses warning signs of abuse, where and how to get help if you’re in an abusive dating relationship, important statistics, and educational resources. If your school, college class or club, or youth group would like to schedule a seminar, please call the Outreach Center at 435-628-1204.