Teen Dating Violence Prevention
Feb 03, 2013 | 725 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
February is the shortest month of the year, it is the month that Black History is commemorated, it is often coined the LOVE Month in acknowledgement of Valentine’s Day... it’s the month where stores are filled with red hearts, chocolate candy and fluffy teddy bears… but did you know that February is also the month in which Teen Dating Violence Prevention is observed?

It has been questioned whether or not we should observe teen dating violence prevention month. Let’s look at the facts to determine if there is a need to call attention to this issue: 1 in 3 young people experience some form of dating abuse; 1 in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend; and nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year. Now I ask you, “Is there a need to recognize teen dating violence prevention month”?

So what is teen dating violence anyway? Teen dating violence is any pattern of behavior that someone utilizes to gain power and control over their partner. Teen dating violence can be physical, financial, verbal, emotional, sexual and even digital.

Typically, teen dating violence does not start with the physical form… it is rare when one goes on a date for the first time they will be hit, slapped, kicked or punched. For this reason, it is crucial that we strive to inform teens and young adults of the many warning signs that will help them determine if a person has abusive tendencies early on in their relationship. There will always be red flags and warning posts, but if one is not knowledgeable of the signs, they may very well identify the warning signs as LOVE. Warning signs such as jealousy (which is the number one warning sign); red flags such as a partner telling you where to go, where not to go, who to be with, whom not to be with, isolating you from family members or friends, name calling, checking your cellular phone, Facebook page and emails without your permission, and the list continues… constantly putting you down, extreme insecurity, explosive temper, making false accusations, mood swings and possessiveness. If there is a pattern of one or more of the mentioned behaviors in your relationship, I strongly encourage you to seek help!

The role that parents play when it comes to preventing teen dating violence is essential. Just as parents teach their children to walk, talk and tie their shoes, they must additionally teach their children “how to build healthy relationships”. Dating/Domestic violence is a learned behavior. Most often, the type of relationships that parents have will become patterns for their children. If parents are in unhealthy relationships, it is very likely that their children will be in unhealthy relationships.

So remember, during the month of February, as you are preparing to spread love by sending Valentine cards, buying heart shaped candy and fluffy teddy bears… please keep at the forefront of your thinking that February is Teen Dating Violence Prevention Month and too many of our teens and young adults are being killed by someone who confesses to LOVE them. We must teach our children what constitutes healthy and unhealthy relationships in order to prevent teen dating violence – after all; they are too young to die for LOVE.

This article is written in memory of teens whose lives were taken from them by someone who confessed to love them, specifically LaTasha Norman {Washington County}, Shelby Harmon {Bolivar County} and Bianca Keyes {Sunflower County}).

If you or a love one is in a violent relationship, call Our House for assistance… 662-332-LOVE!

Felecia Thomas, Healthy Relationship Director

Our House, Inc. ~ A United Way Agency