Do you know how prevalent teen dating violence is? In a single year, nearly 1.5 million high school students experience abuse from a dating partner (Murphy, 2020).
Discussing dating violence with your teenager may seem like a daunting task or maybe you think that your child couldn’t possibly end up in an abusive relationship. Do you know what to look out for? Does your child?
This is an especially important topic to discuss with your child who has hearing loss. Youth with hearing loss are abused at a higher rate than hearing individuals. Do you know the unique barriers your child can face due to being in an abusive relationship with hearing loss?
DeafHope says the following are other tactics abusers may use to exert power and control over their deaf partners:
Intimidation through gestures, facial expressions or exaggerated signs, floor stomping and pounding on the table or door
Signing very close to a survivor’s face when angry
Criticizing a survivor’s sign language skills or communication style
Not informing the survivor when people try to call on the phone or are trying to get their attention
Excluding the survivor from important conversations
Leaving the survivor out of social situations with hearing people
Talking negatively about the deaf community
Wrongly interpreting to manipulate the situation if the police are called
Not allowing children to use sign language to talk with the survivor
Haven’t discussed dating violence with your child? You’re not alone!
A national survey of parents with teenagers found that nearly half had never discussed dating violence with their children (Murphy, 2020). There are so many reasons to teach your children about dating violence, including (Murphy, 2020):
Violent behavior often begins between the ages of 12 and 18
Dating violence victims are at a higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, and further domestic violence
Being physically or sexually abused makes teen girls six times more likely to become pregnant AND twice as likely to get an STD
According to Teendvmonth (2018), follow these steps to ensure a smooth and comfortable discussion:
Establish open lines of communication and set positive examples. Teenagers take cues from their surroundings and the media they follow. For example, if a domestic violence scene appears during a movie you are watching, take the opportunity to talk about what is on screen; they may seem like they aren’t listening, but they are hearing you on some level.
Talk to sons and daughters. It is equally important to look for signs in both sons and daughters. Either can be the victim or perpetrator. Pay attention to behavioral changes in your teen.
Talk to your teen privately.
Acknowledge that relationships are difficult. Try relating to the difficulties your teen may be experiencing in their relationship. Get them to understand that relationships are hard work and require a lot of effort to be successful. It is easy for relationships to fail because resorting to unhealthy behaviors is easier than investing the time, energy, and consideration that is needed for a healthy, strong relationship.
Get uncomfortable. Don’t shy away from ensuring their relationship behaviors are positive just because the topic is embarrassing. Make sure they understand the potential criminal consequences of being the violent perpetrator.
Understand your teen’s relationships. Invest in the relationships and encourage them to tell you about their significant other; if you ask them regularly, they may feel more comfortable approaching you if it becomes unhealthy.
Teaching young people about healthy relationships and ways to avoid physical dating violence can reduce physical and sexual violence by 60% (Murphy, 2020). Educating your teens about signs of an unhealthy relationship is important, but teaching them signs of healthy relationships is just as important!
For more information on teen dating violence and unhealthy vs. healthy relationships, visit our Facebook page and check out our last blog on teen dating violence warning signs.
Murphy, C. (2020, August 29). Teenage Dating Violence Statistics in 2021 (Eye Opening). Retrieved from https://www.reclaimtheinternet.com/dating/teen-dating-violence-statistics/
Teendvmonth. (2018, December 04). How to Talk to Your Teen About Dating Violence. Retrieved from https://www.teendvmonth.org/talk-teen-dating-violence/