Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Teen Dating Violence-What is it?



Teen Dating Violence-What is it? Why should we be concerned? What can we do? Why is this blog important?

Teen Dating Violence is the abuse that usually transforms itself into Domestic Violence. First, I think it is important to define abuse.

Abuse is a pattern of behavior where one person tries to control the thoughts, beliefs, or conduct of a lover, friend, or any other person close to them. It can include a cycle of violence in the forms of physical, emotional, sexual, verbal, spiritual, and/or economic abuse.

Abuse, also called battering, domestic violence, and/or dating violence happens in straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, questioning, and transgendered relationships. It crosses all social, ethnic, racial, and socio-economic lines. An individual’s size, strength, politics, and/or personality DOES NOT determine whether he or she could be an abuser or a victim.

Teen Dating Violence is exactly what it sounds like. Teens and tweens engaged in interpersonal relationships where abuse is occurring. Teen Dating Violence usually begins in middle and high school.

In Washington State there is a review board called the Washington State Fatality Review Board. This particular organization reviews all domestic violence related fatalities for the express purpose of determining where an intervention could have taken place in order to prevent the fatality. The Fatality Review Board found that the majority of relationships that experienced a domestic violence related fatality began in high school. What does that mean? High school and middle school relationships, while we hope they are made of innocence, novelty, and puppy love are easily and quickly moving into the realm of serious adult relationships. Teens and tweens are quickly learning from their home life, the media, popular culture, and other peers about what relationships should look like. This is good and bad when one considered that each of these examples may or may not be presenting an age-appropriate, positive, safe and healthy example of what a relationship should look like. At the very least, our teens and tweens are experiencing very adult situations in young relationships.

Alarm bells should be going off in your head right now. Our teens are in a position to get into serious trouble and dangerous situations with a potentially life-threatening outcome. We need to be concerned with the examples of relationships our kids are learning from. Is your home life living up to the positive view you want your children to emulate? Are they getting their best relationship advice from Gossip Girl, 90210, and Teen Mom? Or still yet, are they learning from peers at school?

What can we do? We can educate our teens and ourselves. We can learn about what a healthy relationship should look like. We can learn about the warning signs of teen dating violence. We can make time to put ourselves into our kids’ shoes and really strive to understand what they are experiencing. We need to do this even when we think it is silly, they are making a big deal out of something small, and when we have forgotten what the pressures of teen life were. Today teens live in a big world with access to many things past generations weren’t. We can strive to be the best examples of positive choices and healthy relationships for our children to follow.

Why is this blog important? If while reading this you have questions, that’s great. This blog will help educate and inspire. It will be a source of good information, great conversation topics, and with any luck, a vehicle for change and communication. This blog will talk about Teen Dating Violence and healthy relationships and shine a light on the role that social networking, the media, popular culture, and the internet plays in showing and teaching our kids about relationships.

Join me on this journey. Learn. Laugh. Cry. Most of all-Talk about it.

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