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Teen dating safety

Teens:

Dating should be a good thing, right?

Of course! But have you, or a friend, ever been dating someone and there’s something that isn’t quite right? The person may seem nice most of the time, but then there are times that just don’t feel right.

In a healthy relationship, each partner is respectful to the other, whether in person, on the phone or online. It is never OK for someone else to make you feel bad, to manipulate you or do something that lowers your self-esteem. Each partner is respectful to the other, whether in person, on the phone or online.

this is important

Could it be abuse? How do I know?

Abuse can happen in many ways and in any kind of dating relationship. It can happen in serious or in casual hook-ups. So how do you know if it’s abuse?

You might see one or more of these signs:

digital abuse

Physical abuse

Contact with you that you don’t want and didn’t ask for, but is done to you on purpose.

Emotional abuse

Being talked to in a way that is meant to make you feel humiliated, scared, threatened or insulted. The abuse may include constant texting, calling or stalking.

Sexual abuse

Forcing or pressuring you to do something sexually that you don’t want to do. The abuse could be rape, oral sex or not allowing birth control or condoms to be used during sex. It is unwanted sexual contact.

Digital abuse

Using technology like texting or social media to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate you. 

Financial abuse

Controlling what you can or cannot buy, or how you spend your money.

What do I do if I think I’m in an abusive relationship?

  • Remember — the abuse is never your fault.
  • Do not accept excuses from your partner about his or her actions.
  • Talk to someone you trust — an adult, friend, family member or your doctor.
  • Make a safety plan to help you stay out of dangerous situations.

Need more help?

If you want to talk to someone, you can:

  • Text the loveisrespect messaging service where teens can talk with peer talk with peer advocates 24/7. Text “loveis” to 22522.
  • Talk with a peer advocate through the loveisrespect phone line 24/7 at 1-866-331-9474.
  • Find more information or chat via the website at www.loveisrespect.org

You deserve a safe and healthy relationship!


Parents/Guardians:

Safe dating for your teen — what you need to know

talk about it

It’s never too early to talk to your child about healthy relationships and dating violence. Starting conversations is one of the most important steps you can take to help prevent dating violence — even if you don’t think your child is dating.

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Dating should be a fun and exciting time for your teen. But sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. Sometimes a person who may seem nice can turn out to be just the opposite. In a healthy relationship, each partner is respectful to the other, whether in person, on the phone, or online.

How can you know if your teen is in a troubled relationship? 

Warning signs can help you find out before it’s too late. Some warning signs to look for are:

  • Marks or bruises your child can’t explain.
  • Too many emails or texts from your child’s partner.
  • Does your child:
    • Seem depressed or anxious?
    • Dress differently now?
    • Spend less time with other friends or family?
    • Show little interest in activities that he or she used to do?
  • Does your child’s partner:
    • Act very jealous?
    • Abuse other people or animals?

What can you do if you think it’s abuse?

As a parent or guardian, you will want to help your child in whatever way you can. It’s important to not react too quickly. This could stop the conversation before it starts. Here are some tips to keep in mind when trying to help a child who you think is facing dating abuse:

Listen and give support

When talking to your teen, be supportive. Do not accuse. Let your child know that it’s not his or her fault and no one “deserves” to be abused.

Accept what your child is telling you

Believe that your child is telling the truth. Your child may be afraid to share what’s happening because he or she thinks no one will believe it. Offer your total support.

Show concern

Let your teen know that you worry for his or her safety. Let your teen know that what’s happening isn’t “normal.” Everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship.

Talk about the behaviors, not the person

When talking about the abuse, talk about the behaviors you don’t like, not the person. Remember that there may still be love in the relationship — respect your child’s feelings.

Stay away from demands

It’s important that your child is ready to walk away from the relationship on his or her own. If you demand your teen to leave, he or she is leaving because you said so. Your teen didn’t make the decision, and he or she may want to go back.

Decide on next steps together

When you’re talking to your teen about a plan of action, know that the decision has to come from your teen. Ask what next steps he or she would like to take.

Be ready

Learn more about dating abuse. Help your child see the unhealthy behaviors and patterns in any abusive relationship. Talk about what makes a relationship healthy.

Resources

If your teen wants someone else to talk to, he or she can: