Teen Dating Violence
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. One in three teens in the U.S. will experience physical, sexual, or emotional abuse by someone they are in a relationship with before they become adults. Educating your teen on healthy relationships can help keep them safe now and set them up for more successful adult relationships.
Parents should talk to their kids about setting appropriate boundaries and encourage them to communicate these boundaries to anyone they are in a relationship with. Both partners should know each other’s wants, goals, fears and limits. You should feel comfortable honestly communicating your needs to your partner without being afraid of what they might do in response. If your partner tells you that your needs are stupid, gets angry with you or goes against what you’re comfortable with, then your partner is not showing you the respect you deserve.
Emotional boundaries include when and how a partner says “I love you” and the amount of time spent together. Each partner should be able to express him or herself freely, including the need to spend some time apart.
Physical boundaries should be discussed and communicated throughout the relationship. Each partner should feel comfortable with any physical contact and understand that sex is not a currency. Before entering a relationship, your kids should understand consent. They need to be able to assert their feelings as well as respect those of others. Consent is a clear and enthusiastic yes. If someone seems unsure, stays silent, doesn’t respond or says “maybe…” then they are not saying yes.
Digital boundaries ensure the digital privacy expectations of each partner are met. This includes keeping passwords private and communicating respectfully over text message. No one should feel pressured into sexting and sharing nude photos (including receiving unsolicited nudes). Sexting can also have legal consequences. Any nude photos or videos of someone under the age of 18 could be considered child pornography, which is illegal to own or distribute.
Sometimes teens find it difficult to discuss these types of issues with their parents. Remind them there are other resources, such as:
- the school social worker or counselor
- their School Resource Officer (SRO)
- Turning Point (815-338-8081)
- the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233)
For more information on teen dating violence, including warning signs resources on how to talk to your teen, please see www.loveisrespect.org.
Huntley Safety 1st is the monthly education series written by the staff of the Huntley Police Department. On the first of each month, we provide citizens with information on a different public safety related issue.