For Parents of Teens

Teens Need Adults to:   

  • Listen
  • Model strength, openness, trust, and cooperation
  • Respect intelligence
  • Value teen's fears
  • Respect teen desire to be independent
  • Provide a clear, understandable conceptual framework to aid in problem solving
  • Provide options
  • Prevent rudeness, judging (especially about appearance), lecturing, attitudes of disrespect
  • Emphasize local community information, services, and networks
  • Understand systematic mistreatment that young people receive in this adult-defined world and correct that mistreatment
  • Avoid victim blaming statements
  • Avoid reaffirming sex-role stereotypes
  • Believe in the severity of the abuse
  • Acknowledge the role of power and control in abusive relationships, and how authority figures can replicate that role.
  • Validate the victims concerns

Unique Aspects of Teen Dating Violence Relationships:

  • Teens resist seeking help from parents and other adults, especially authority figures. Fear of losing their newly gained independence can deter a teen from accessing resources.
  • Lack of experience in dating relationships makes teens more susceptible to gender stereotypes.
  • Romanticized ideals about relationships and love may cause teens to confuse jealousy, possessiveness, and abuse with signs of love and affection.
  • Lack of experience and peer group norms make it difficult for a victim to judge if his/her partners behavior is out of line. Isolation can make it even more difficult to do a reality check
  • Relationships are frequently perceived as very significant by teens. Although they may be shorter in length, they can be experienced as intensely as adult relationships.
  • Teenage women are vulnerable because of the double standard of sexual morality for women and the resulting fear of a bad reputation among peers.*
  • Peer intervention can end or escalate a relationship. Many aspects of peer intervention may ultimately increase the risk to the victim.
  • The victim is often unable to avoid the abuser because they attend the same school.
  • Many adults do not take teen relationships seriously, discounting them as puppy love or over-dramatized.

Adapted from The Curriculum Project: The Minnesota Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

*Denise Gamache (74) in Barrie Levy’s Dating Violence - Young Women in Danger.