February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is “Know Your Worth”. As a holistic health education program, Pure Freedom values youth’s safety and well-being above all. Therefore, in this post, we are going back to what teen dating violence is, what it looks like, and how as parents or educators we can help prevent it from happening.
First and foremost, it’s interesting to consider how our culture presents love to teenagers. From movies and book series such as Fifty Shades or After, they learn that love equals passionate romance. And that passion can be impetuous, violent, even deceptive, as we see in the TV show Gossip Girl, in which one of the male characters pretends to be someone else to sleep with a lead female character. Emotions are on fire, and the end justifies the means.
Unfortunately, in this context where the lines between healthy and unhealthy relationships are blurred, teen dating violence is a very prevalent phenomenon.
According to statistics:
But what is considered teen dating violence exactly? It can consist of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Examples include:
The bottom line is that it can take so many different forms and that some of them might be more difficult to notice than others, both from the internal point of view of the teen being abused and from the external perspective of the parent or educator.
Note that because most teenagers don’t have their own house, teen dating violence may occur in various exterior settings, including “a hotel, in the car, at a dance club, and in a public business”, as well as in school.
And as a result of this kind of abuse, teenagers may experience difficulties related to academic performance, mental health and self-confidence, trust issues, alcohol and drug abuse, and so on. Overall it’s their entire future that may become affected, which is something Pure Freedom strives to fight against by equipping youth to not only recognize dating abuse but also to prevent it before it starts.
“The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families” highlights four specific risk factors associated with teen dating violence. These are:
This all may seem overwhelming, but the good news is that together, we can take action towards reducing teen dating violence. Whether you are a parent or a school professional, you do have options in your toolkit.
The mechanisms of teen dating abuse are not infallible, and there are several steps you can take right now to counter them:
Because knowledge is power, Pure Freedom seeks to empower youth to live a happy and healthy life, free from abuse. You can learn more about our approach here: Pure Freedom’s approach.
Let’s build a better future for our youth together.
Written by Elodie Takamiya.
Murray, Christine E., Kelly King, and Allison Crowe. “Understanding and Addressing Teen Dating Violence.” The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families 24.1 (2016): 52-59.