Although no one wants to believe their adolescent will ever be the victim or perpetrator of dating violence, it is more prevalent than any of us want to admit. One in three adolescents in the United States 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 and only 33 percent of teens who were in an abusive relationship report ever telling anyone about the abuse.
If you are reading this, and have teens of dating age, you are likely thinking dating violence is not an issue and you would know if you child was in an abusive relationship. Sadly, 81 percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they do not know if it’s an issue. Although 82 percent of parents feel confident that they could recognize the signs if their child was experiencing dating abuse, a majority of parents (58 percent) could not correctly identify all the warning signs of abuse.
Below are things to look for in a healthy, non-abusive relationship. As a parent, you may be able to recognize if these are present in your teen’s relationship. If not, have your daughter or son review the list and have a conversation with them about their answers. If you or your teen would like more information about dating violence, go to http://www.loveisrespect.org/ or contact the Crisis Center Foundation at 217-243-4357.
Having a healthy relationship is about more than attraction; it requires respect, trust and open communication. Whether you are looking for a relationship or are already in one, make sure you and your partner agree on what makes a relationship healthy. It’s not always easy, but you can build a healthy relationship. Look for someone who:
- Treats you with respect.
- Doesn’t make fun of things you like or want to do.
- Never puts you down.
- Doesn’t get angry if you spend time with your friends or family.
- Listens to your ideas and compromises sometimes.
- Isn’t excessively negative.
- Shares some of your interests such as movies, sports, reading, dancing or music.
- Isn’t afraid to share their thoughts and feelings.
- Is comfortable around your friends and family.
- Is proud of your accomplishments and successes.
- Respects your boundaries and does not abuse technology
- Doesn’t require you to “check in” or need to know where you are all the time.
- Is caring and honest.
- Doesn’t pressure you to do things that you don’t want to do, especially have sex.
- Doesn’t constantly accuse you of cheating or being unfaithful.
- Encourages you to do well in school or at work.
- Doesn’t threaten you or make you feel scared.