National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention month just ended, but we are still reflecting on warning signs for relationship abuse and other messages that are being targeted to our teens and young adults in the mainstream media:
- What images do they see daily?
- How do social media and different applications play a role in their experiences and interactions with others?
- What do most teens listen to in their music selections and what messages are they receiving?
- Who are the most popular role models for teens?
We have the opportunity to experience a lot of what is happening in our own community and around the world, through television, radio and the Internet. As we watch the news or see items online, we became aware that everyone lives differently. While we experience our own circumstances and unique environment, we all make decisions and have choices that frame who we are and where we will go in life.
Some have more opportunities and support for these choices while others are very limited. No matter where we come from, we need to always be in control and responsible for our actions and choices.
Are you a rapper, doctor, artist, teacher, student, mother, father or friend? We all play a role in how we communicate and treat one another. Teen dating violence or domestic violence doesn’t happen to those we don’t know — it happens to those we know, those we work or go to school with or encounter in our daily travels.
It is happening all around us; for some, directly in our homes or personal relationships. If it’s happening to us all, why don’t we all take a pledge to make it stop?
A pledge to treat others with respect, dignity, equality and without the use of fear, control, physical and or emotional abuse. For example:
- For a rapper to select words that bring unity;
- For a doctor to ask if you or someone you know is being hurt at home and to say it’s not OK and we can help;
- For an artist to create work that illuminates peace and beauty;
- For a teacher to communicate what love is and what love is not so at an early age everyone will know if what is happening at home or in a relationship is not OK;
- For a student to actively engage with the environment of learning to encourage others to reach and follow their dreams;
- For our mothers and fathers to know their job as parents is not easy and to ask for help or seek professional help when times get too tough;
- For a friend to be there for another when times are not good and to help each other get over challenges with each other's support.
In 2010, February was designated as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Adults are often unaware that teens are involved in abusive relationships. Again, we are asking for your attention, involvement and commitment to end relationship violence.
Similar to domestic violence, dating abuse can be emotional, verbal, physical or sexual. With teenagers, abuse can include the use of social media and networking, to email and texting.
Warning signs of possible abusive relationships may include: subtle stalking, staring, taking over control of your teen’s free time, not letting your teen socialize with their friends, monitoring their social media, text and email messages, getting angry, attacking your teen or making them feel guilty for spending time with family or friends, or not communicating.
Calling them repeatedly, following them and not trusting or believing where they are or who they are with are also signs. And more teens are being abused by the horrible physical pain that is being inflicted by fighting, hitting and punching.
The use of digital media and GPS to track, harass and control behaviors is prevalent. Our national news continues to make us all more aware of the horrific reality and violence in relationships. Having us all ask the question, “Why does someone kill the person they say they love?”
Recently, the Operation For HOPE Foundation met with high-risk teens between the ages of 15-17 to discuss teen dating violence awareness and ways we can work together to prevent it. Here are a few of the pledges from the group to end relationship violence:
- “I PLEDGE to be fair in my relationships. No trust issues just love and happiness.”
- “I PLEDGE to never let my love partner hurt me in any way. I will always respect myself and be respected. I will not go through pain only love!”
- “I PLEDGE to live a violence-free life!”
- “I PLEDGE that I will no longer add to the pain and the scars, we’ve been through so much, I refuse to look back, I can do better, I am worth more!”
- “I PLEDGE to walk away from my abusive relationship and never look back.”
- “I PLEDGE to stop the violence forever by standing up to prevent teen relationship violence.”
- “I PLEDGE to help stop relationship violence by giving victims support and hope.”
- “I PLEDGE to always be in a healthy relationship.”
- “I PLEDGE to never get into an abusive relationship, never be abused by anyone.”
- “I PLEDGE to be respectful, caring, loyal and honest with my partner.”
- “I PLEDGE to myself that I will stay strong, I won’t go back, I will love myself, I will help another to let them know that they are not alone.”
As we work together to end relationship violence, let’s work towards change in our behavior and actions and try to understand how our actions are affecting other people. As a community, let’s come together and implement this change in our messages, actions and behaviors to create a community without violence or abuse.
We can all make a difference. Make a pledge to end relationship violence!
Help is available and to stop the abuse and violence, you need to act. If you are in danger and for emergencies, call 911.
National Dating Abuse Helpline: 866-331-9474
Love is Respect: loveisrespect.org
Teen Dating Violence Fact Sheet, Click Here to download
The National Center For Victims of Crime, 800-FYI-CALL
Teen Power and Control Wheel, Click Here to download
Teen Safety Plan Guide, Click Here to download
Operation For HOPE Foundation, operationforhope.org
Check out all of these applications in the prevention of violence with teens: