by Cass Clemmer
Talking about sex with your kid is hard enough, but having to bring up sexual and gender based violence? That’s a whole new obstacle in itself.
But February is Teen Domestic Violence Awareness month, and having this talk with your children can help them understand the parameters of a healthy relationship and learn how to recognize violence in its many different forms.
We know you may be uncomfortable having a conversation with your teenager about the realities of domestic and sexual violence in our world, so we’ve included some tips to help you out! Please take the time to read through this list, and set aside at least ten minutes for a frank discussion with your too-soon-to-be-adult(s) about a topic that often gets overlooked.
Broach the topic by using something they’re familiar with…
Do they like Disney? Talk about the ways Disney portrays healthy vs. unhealthy relationships in their films. Check out our post about hidden violence in Beauty and the Beast
Are they obsessed with sports? Start the conversation by talking about prominent sports players who have gotten benched (or not…) because of abusive behavior. Check out our coverage on Ray Rice and the #Nevermore campaign
Do they keep up with the latest celebrity gossip? If so, there’s an unfortunate plethora of celebrities who have been abused, perpetrated abuse, or been embroiled in court battles over domestic violence.
Whatever your teen is interested in, finding something they’re comfortable talking with can help ease you into the tough topic of domestic violence.
Frame the conversation around the notion of healthy relationships and ask them guiding questions like the ones below:
What does a healthy relationship look like?
How do you think you should treat your girlfriend/boyfriend?
How do you think they should treat you?
Bring them into a comfortable brainstorming session about how two people should treat each other in a relationship. If applicable, rely on your own family structure for examples.
Be sure that your teen knows who to contact if they witness or experience anything that appears to be outside the bounds of a healthy relationship.
Remind them this isn’t an open and shut conversation, but that they are free to continue the discussion with you or a trusted adult whenever they have more questions or concerns.
Encourage them to bring the conversation to their friends, and discuss what healthy relationships look like with their buddies.
There are likely many people in your communities who are not familiar with teen dating abuse, and now that you and your teen are armed with new information and awareness, you can help!
Consider partnering up to do a fundraiser at your school or organizing an awareness week with your church to keep the message spreading!
We know that as a parent you have a million other things to worry about every day regarding your child’s emotional and physical well-being. But trust us, teen domestic violence is more than a tiny blip on the parental radar- over 1.5 million high school students in the United States (girls and boys) admit to being physically harmed in the past year by someone they were romantically involved with.
Help us make sure that your teen is armed with the correct information and warning signs to detect dating abuse before it goes too far.
If you need more resources for talking to your child about dating abuse, or even more information on Teen Domestic Violence, check out the following links: