TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - This week's "Teen Talk" is focused on advice for parents when it comes to teens who may be suffering from domestic violence.
WTXL contributor and family therapist Jane Marks:
Teen dating violence is defined as physical, sexual, or psychological and emotional violence within a dating relationship as well as stalking. Here are some interesting numbers:
-Roughly 1.5 high school boys and girls admit to being intentionally hit or physically harmed in the last year.
-One in every four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
-33% of adolescents in America are victims of sexual, physical, verbal or emotional dating abuse.
-Females between the ages of 16 and 24 are roughly three times as likely as the rest of the population to be abused by an intimate partner.
-Violent behavior often begins between sixth and twelfth grade.
-17% of 13 and 14 year olds are dating.
-50% of young people who experience rape or physical abuse will attempt to commit suicide.
-Teens who have been abused often hesitate to seek help because they fear exposure or they are not aware of the laws surrounding domestic violence.
These are facts that parents need to be clear about.
1. Dating violence in adolescence is related to certain risk factors and it is critical that parents be aware of this. Teens that use alcohol or drugs, teens who can't manage anger or frustration. Teens who hang out with violent peers. Teens who believe its okay to use threats or violence to get their way or express frustration on anger. Teens that have multiple sexual partners. Teens that have friends involved in dating violence. Teens that experience depression or severe anxiety. Teens that have learning difficulties and other problems in school. Teens that have to manage on their own and have parents who work hard and have a difficult time providing continuous supervision and support. Teens that witness violence at home or in the community. Teens that have aggressive behavior or any kind of experience with bullying are at risk.
2. As a parent there are many community resources available to you. They include the National Domestic Violence hotline, National Teen Dating Abuse Help Line, National Sexual Assault Hotline, National Sexual Assault online hotlines, National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women. In addition, look to your child's high school for their available resources as well.
3. Remember parents, batterers choose to be abusive so if you witness issues like explosive tempers or jealousy, resentiveness, constantly checking in with their partners, forcing partners to do things they are not ready for, threatening, all of these are big indicators and require immediate attention. Other indicators include telling a partner what to wear, property abuse or micromanaging decisions.
4. Parents, make sure you teach and model healthy boundary setting. Sometimes in an effort to be "good girls", your teens are often unwilling to create any waves. So be very clear about inappropriate gestures or events. Sometimes teens need to have it spelled out to them.
5. As a parent, if you do think that this is going on with your youngster, do give your child a chance to talk. Remember always have good communication and use clear language to describe what you see happening. Acknowledge that they are in a very difficult and scary situation. Educate yourself and access all online resources. Do not blame them for the abuse or make them feel judged. Do not punish because of an abusive partner. Do not criticize them. It is important to confront the disrespectful language or behavior that you see occurring. Let your child know that controlling behaviors are abusive and will prevent them from ever having long term, healthy relationships. Make sure you model healthy behavior. If you can't handle it on your own, consult professional resources, look at all the confidential hotlines, they can give you direction on how to handle it. Or look to a local mental health professional.
Watch Teen Talk every other Monday at 6:30am on WTXL's Sunrise.