February Is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

In recognition of February as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, Pee Dee Coalition is urging all responsible adults to learn about the dangers the youth in their care face as they begin dating. Teen dating violence is an adverse childhood experience that can have lifetime effects on the health and wellbeing of abused teens as they become adults. In fact, teens who suffer dating abuse are subject to long-term consequences like alcoholism, eating disorders, promiscuity, suicidal thoughts and violent behavior. Teen girls who are abused are six times more likely to become pregnant or contract a sexually transmitted infection.
• Nearly 1.5 million students experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.
• One in three girls in the US is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.
• One in ten high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Being a parent of someone in an abusive dating relationship makes a difficult situation even harder. Knowing or even suspecting that your child is being harmed can be both frightening and frustrating. As a parent, educator, youth leader or mentor, you are a crucial part of helping teens develop healthy relationships and providing the support necessary to build their confidence in order to leave the bad ones. Maintaining mutual trust depends on you demonstrating to the teen that you are trustworthy – that means respecting their decision-making even when you disagree. You can’t force them to trust you and you can’t live their lives, including decisions about their relationships. Understanding how to support them lovingly and in non-judgmental ways will help you maintain the connection your youth need to feel comfortable reaching out for help.
If you need guidance on how to start a conversation, consider the following resource: https://www.loveisrespect.org/supporting-others-dating-abuse/supporting-your-child/
Loveisrespect.org is also a resource for your junior high and high school students. There are chat options, they may text Loveis to 22522 or all the 24-hour hotline at 866-331-9474 to discuss options confidentially.
Pee Dee Coalition can also provide information for parents, educators, and youth leaders. In-service trainings are available for schools as well as the faith-community and other youth-service organizations. The 24-hour crisis line is 843-669-4694 or 1-800-273-1820.

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