For Parents of Teens
Teens Need Adults to:
- 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.