Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
When it comes to relationships, teens are not immune to the potential for violence in relationships. During February, Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, Swain County residents are encouraged to recognize the characteristics of both violence within relationships and the characteristics of a healthy relationship.
The numbers are startling. Research shows that one in three teens, ages 14-20, have been victims of dating violence. For girls, the risk of dating violence is worse. One in six women are raped before they reach 25 years old and 12 percent of 9-12 grade girls have been physically forced to have sex when they did not consent.
Such violence can attribute to other problems. Half of young people who experience rape or physical abuse will attempt suicide. Only a third of those who experience an abusive relationship will confide in someone.
Substance abuse is shown as a factor. Teens who suffer dating abuse are subject to alcoholism, eating disorders, promiscuity, thoughts of suicide and violent behavior.
Parent and guardians are encouraged to talk to their children about healthy relationships. Respect for both one self and others are key characteristics of healthy relationships.
Healthy relationships share certain characteristics that teens should be taught to expect including:
- Mutual respect. Respect means that each person values who the other is and understands the other person’s boundaries.
Trust. Partners should place trust in each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt.
- Honesty: Honesty builds trust and strengthens the relationship.
- Individuality: Neither partner should have to compromise who he/she is, and his/her identity should not be based on a partner’s. Each should continue seeing his or her friends and doing the things he/she loves. Each should be supportive of his/her partner wanting to pursue new hobbies or make new friends.
- Good communication: Each partner should speak honestly and openly to avoid miscommunication. If one person needs to sort out his or her feelings first, the other partner should respect those wishes and wait until he or she is ready to talk.
- Anger control: We all get angry, but how we express it can affect our relationships with others. Anger can be handled in healthy ways such as taking a deep breath, counting to ten, or talking it out.
- Self-confidence: When dating partners have confidence in themselves, it can help their relationships with others. It shows that they are calm and comfortable enough to allow others to express their opinions without forcing their own opinions on them.
- Being a role model. By embodying what respect means, partners can inspire each other, friends, and family to also behave in a respectful way.To learn more, visit wnctips.org/resources or www.loveisrespect.org/resources/teendvmonth.
- This information has been provided by the Coalition for a Safe and Drug Free Swain County. Residents interested in joining the coalition or who want to learn more can contact Trish Hipgrave with the Swain County Health Department at 488-3198.