February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
Teen Dating Violence—We Need Changes, and Now
by Aspen Lofgren, UV Volunteer & SJW Blogger
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines teen dating violence as, “the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence within a dating relationship, including stalking. It can occur in person or electronically and might occur between a current or former dating partner.”
From this definition, teen dating violence doesn’t just look like one thing. When most of us think of dating violence, it’s simple to think mainly of a physically abusive relationship, but it is so important that we pay attention to the other forms of abuse since they may be as damaging, if not more.
So now you may be thinking why teen dating violence is an issue of importance—well, there’s a variety of possible reasons. From personal experience, I didn’t have many examples of healthy relationships. This includes within my family, what I saw in public, and what I saw/read/heard in the media.
I have two wonderful parents who love each other, but I view their relationship as very unhealthy when it comes to the emotional and psychological health of one. But I grew up seeing their relationship and thought all relationships worked the same way theirs did. I saw (still see) couples in public being humiliated, yelled at, and even hit.
And the media! There are so many examples of unhealthy relationships that our youth (and adults) are taking in from the media. I could talk for hours about media putting toxic ideas of what a relationship should look like into our heads, but you get the point. There are many factors that come into play.
And now you may be asking, “Well, what can I do Aspen?”
I am in no way an expert, but I think the best thing we can do is just talk about these subjects with our youth. We especially need to be talking with our kids! We discuss with them what they think is a healthy relationship and have an open, healthy conversation about it. Some adults may be intimidated to talk to their own kids or youth about this topic; luckily there are some amazing resources out there.
Below are some incredible resources that have more information about teen dating violence and tools with talking with youth.
- https://www.unspokenvoices.net/ Unspoken Voices will continue to offer resources to generate ideas and awareness, not only about the issue of teen dating violence, but also advocacy for healthy changes our society needs to make.
- “How to Start a Conversation: Talking About Dating and Healthy Relationships Step-by-Step”
- The Love is Not Abuse This iPhone app is an educational resource for parents that demonstrates the dangers of digital dating abuse and provides much needed information on the growing problem of teen dating violence and abuse.
- Circle of 6 Circle of 6 is an iPhone app for college-aged students and their friends to stay close, stay safe, and prevent violence before it happens. The design is simple. It takes two touches to get help and they use icons to represent actions, so that no one can tell what you're up to if they see your phone. The design ensures safety, speed and privacy.
- The myPlan app from The One Love Foundation helps the user determine if a relationship is unsafe and helps to create the best action plan by weighing an individual’s unique characteristics and values. In partnership with LoveisRespect.org, the app provides access to trained advocate support 24/7 through an embedded live chat function. This app is free and can be used anonymously on smart phones and other electronic devices.