It’s never too early to talk to teens about healthy relationships and dating violence. Starting conversations – even if you don’t think a teen is dating – is one of the most important steps you can take to help prevent dating violence. February 4 has been designated It’s Time To Talk Day, an annual awareness day that is encouraging everyone – especially parents and teens – to start talking about what it means to have a healthy relationship. You can check out their website for tips on starting the conversation: www.itstimetotalkday.org.
To get educated on dating violence, I highly recommend the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline website: www.loveisrespect.org – check it out on your own and explore it with a teen. According to their site, about 1 in 3 teens will be emotionally, verbally, physically, or sexually abused by a dating partner. Even if this never happens to the teen in your life, it’s likely they’ll know someone in an abusive relationship.
You can help educate teens by sharing examples of healthy and unhealthy relationships in your own life, in television, movies, or songs. Share your values around dating and hear what they think. Some aspects of healthy relationships that Hope House shares during presentations to teens, include respect yourself and your partner, treat each other as equals, show trust rather than jealousy, resolve conflicts with open communication and not violence, allow for personal space, and respect each other’s boundaries.
Help teens identify people they could talk to if they felt unsafe in their relationship or if they were concerned about a friend. Hope House is a great option for adults and teens in Columbia County as we provide free services to people affected by abusive relationships, including a 24-hour helpline 1-800-584-6790, supportive counseling, safety planning, legal help, support groups, shelter, and community education. Please feel free to call us if you have questions or would like additional resources. Our website also has a list of ways to raise awareness this February for National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month: www.HopeHouseSCW.org.
Jess Kaehny, Community Education Coordinator, Hope House