Teaching healthy relationships helps prevent teenage sexual dating violence

datingviolenceAccording to the 2017 Idaho Youth Risk Behavioral Survey, 21% of female students and 5% of male students in Idaho experienced sexual dating violence in the past 12 months. Sexual dating violence includes kissing, touching, or being physically forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to by somebody they were dating or going out with. While every month is an appropriate month to discuss healthy relationships with young people in your life, February is National Teen Dating Violence and Awareness Month.

How can I talk with my teen about dating violence?

Maintain an open, honest, and ongoing conversation with young people in your life about what healthy and unhealthy relationships are. Characteristics of healthy relationships include effective, non-violent communication and conflict resolution and positive interactions based on respect and trust. People in healthy relationships treat one another well, respect one another and their personal boundaries, allow space to hang out with friends and let each other make their own decisions about what they wear. People in unhealthy relationships can feel shamed or stupid, may feel controlled where they go or who they talk to, especially if their partner reads their texts. Other characteristics of unhealthy relationships include threatening to put something on social media that may control them or grabbing their arm, yelling at them, or pushing them.

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What are some of the consequences of teen dating violence?

Young people are heavily influenced by their relationship experiences. Healthy relationships can have a positive effect on their emotional development. Unhealthy, abusive or violent relationships can cause short-term and long-term negative health effects. Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety, and are at a higher risk of developing diabetes, asthma, and certain types of cancers. They might also engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as using tobacco, drugs, and alcohol. People who have experienced teen dating violence may also carry the patterns of violence into future relationships.

What should a parent do if they become concerned?

The most important thing you can do is to keep talking to the young people in your life and let them know they can talk to you about anything, including their relationships. Parents and teens can call the National Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474, or visit www.loveisrespect.org. In Idaho, parents and teens also can call Idaho Teen Dating Abuse and Sexual Assault Legal Helpline at 1-855-256-1970 for non-emergency legal help.

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How can teen dating violence be prevented?

The ultimate goal is to stop dating violence before it starts. Strategies that promote healthy relationships are vital. During the preteen and teen years, young people are learning skills they need to form positive relationships with others. This is an ideal time to promote healthy relationships and prevent patterns of dating violence that can last into adulthood. Parents can model healthy behaviors in their relationships, including treating others with respect, communicating with their partners and managing their anger and jealousy in non-violent ways. 

What else can be done?

Dating violence can be prevented when teens, families, organizations, and communities work together to implement effective prevention strategies. Find more information at www.idvsa.org , the website for Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence.

A Closer Look at Your Health airs weekly on Tuesday mornings at 6:45 a.m. on KBOI-670 AM in Boise; this is an extended version of the Feb. 20, 2018 program transcript. 

Resources:

IDHW Sexual Violence Prevention Program

Idaho Teen Dating Violence & Sexual Assault Legal Talkline (1-855-256-1970)

What is teen dating violence? (CDC)

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