Last Updated on September 2, 2020 by Morris Green
You know that February is the month many people celebrate Valentine’s Day, and you may also know that February is Heart Month (read our previous post for Heart Health tips). But did you know that February is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month in America? In 2013, the president issued an official proclamation recognizing February as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. In this proclamation, the president highlighted the following statistic:
“In a 12 month period, one in 10 high school students nationwide reported they were physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend, and still more experienced verbal or emotional abuse like shaming, bullying, or threats.”
The statement also explains that physical violence and abuse often leads to other problems later in life, including depression, health complications and substance abuse.
Several organizations have worked to bring about awareness to this problem among teens that is simply not talked about enough. We would like to share with you a few resources to help you spark the conversation with teens – both boys and girls – in your family, neighborhood, community organization or school.
Official Presidential Proclamation
The proclamation is the result of years of groups working together to bring national attention to the need for more education and information to help prevent teenage dating violence, rape and abuse. One thing to note is girls are not the only ones who suffer from dating violence. There are also teenage boys who have reported abuse and assault. Read the full Presidential Proclamation.
Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month Website (LoveIsRespect.org)
This site is dedicated solely to the purpose of spreading awareness and providing resources to promote education and prevention. This site is sponsored by Break The Cycle, an organization dedicated to providing programs and education for youth to prevent dating abuse, and has several resources including statistics and facts about teenage dating abuse. What is particularly helpful about this website is the section provided just for teens. The LoveIsRespect.org site has quizzes, social media groups, Twitter chats and more to allow teens to be actively involved in having better relationships and preventing dating violence. The site also has a guide for what traits to look for in a boyfriend or girlfriend, and lists several warning signs of abusive or potentially abuse behavior including anger, mood swings, jealousy, possessiveness or pressure to have sex.
It’s Time To Talk Day (ItsTimeToTalkDay.org)
Need help talking to a teen about dating? Be sure to check out the “It’s Time To Talk” guide from Break the Cycle. This resource is for parents, guardians, or mentors for having conversations with teens about relationships and dating. It may not be easy to talk to children about sex, Cirillas men and women sex toys and poppers online (spiceupyournight), however, when you talk to them about dating and relationships in general, it may take off some of the pressure and help you ease into more in depth conversations. When talking to teens about relationships, the guide suggests:
- To prepare for your conversation, assess your own values about relationships and dating and be prepared to be honest about your own experiences.
- During your conversation with youth about dating, allow your teen to speak openly without trying to solve the problem. Let them know that you are there to support them. The guide also has good advice about what to do if something does happen, such as teaching youth to be assertive (not aggressive) and take up for themselves.
- For help getting the conversation started, the guide also list several conversation starters. Asking a simple question like “What Does Dating Mean To You?” can open the door to have a casual, yet necessary conversation.
The important thing to know is that having a conversation should not be just a one time thing. Continue to talk to your children about dating and relationships all throughout their childhood and let them know what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior so they carry that into their adult lives. Check in with them and learn to recognize how they behave when they are in a relationship or casually dating.
Youth Radio Health and Wellness (formerly Boss of Me)
This youth-led organization is a great resource for teens to learn from their peers. Based in the Bay Area of California, the organization assists youth locally with health and wellness education, including social and relationship. Though health and wellness education programs are local, their website is a good resource for people all over the country. With the message of “You are in control of YOUR life”, Youth Radio helps youth and teens live better, healthier lives by sharing educational tools and multimedia resources like the video below on the Do’s and Don’ts of Dating.