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Talk With Your Teen About Dating Violence

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Sometime, one must toot the horn of their home state! I am proud of Maryland for being progressive in health education. Legislation now requires the state board of education to encourage county boards to incorporate specific lessons on dating violence into the health education curriculum.

I interviewed Dallas Children’s Theatre award winning playwright Linda Daugherty about her play “dont u luv me?” ┬áThe play explores the warning signs that escalate into aggression and violence while encouraging teens to make the choices that result in healthy relationships. The play is riddled with raw emotion because it mirrors real life.

We all read the headlines about Rhianna and (then) boyfriend Chris Brown’s dating rage. ┬áThis page one story filtered through the halls of every middle school, high school and college. The unfortunate truth is that dating violence surrounds young people and affects everyone around them. One in three teenagers report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, slapped, choked or physically hurt by their partner. This startling statistic is what is “reported”…I’m wondering how many go unreported and are whispers among friends?

Teen dating violence knows no boundary…it runs across race, gender and socio-economic lines. Both males and females are victims. Verbal abuse cuts through a teen’s heart with 80% of teens saying this is a “serious issue” for their age group. When asked whether parents have discussed dating violence with their children? 54% will say they have not.

Begin the dialogue today! Teach them that dating abuse comes in many forms…physical, sexual, verbal or emotional. Let them know that at any time they feel threatened by their partner, they should tell someone and seek assistance. Also, talk to your children about healthy relationships. Tell them to trust their instincts, communicate clearly and always be in control of themselves. You’ve heard me talk about the 10 steps to better parenting. Step #1: model the behavior you expect. Go home and show your children first hand what a healthy relationship you have with your spouse or significant other. It’s the basis for raising healthy, resilient kids.

For more information, you can contact the National Teen Dating Violence Abuse Helpline 1-866-331-9474.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

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