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Warning Signs Your Teen Is in an Abusive Relationship

By Parenting Today's KidsApril 23, 2012

Unfortunately, children are not immune from becoming involved in abusive relationships. The frightening statistics reveal that 1 out of every 3 teens is involved in some sort of abusive dating relationship. In some studies, children as young as 13 and 14 years of age report having classmates or friends who have been kicked, slapped, hit, or worse by someone they were dating. Often these abuses include controlling behaviors, emotional attacks, and sexual and physical violence.

The Warning Signs

Teenagers now have almost instant access to significant others through texting, emailing, and social media sites, which can compound the problems. If you are the parent of a teen, understand some of the common warning signs of abusive relationships:

  • There is a decline in your child’s grades or school attendance.
  • Your child spends dramatically less time with other friends.
  • Your child asks you to cover for her if she goes somewhere with friends or someone other than her boyfriend.
  • Your child’s boyfriend or girlfriend calls frequently and wants to know where your child is at all times.
  • Your child makes decisions based on the reaction of the other person (i.e. Your daughter doesn’t go to the mall because her boyfriend wants her to wait at home for him).
  • Your daughter or son dresses differently to please someone else.
  • The boyfriend or girlfriend posts questionable updates on social media sites or resists your child’s access and posts to these sites.
  • Your child receives excessive texts and instant messages, AND seems upset or nervous if he/she can’t respond immediately.
  • Your child has increased anxiety, depression, or other emotional issues.
  • Your child blames herself/himself every time her boyfriend or girlfriend is upset and is the one in the relationship to apologize constantly.
  • There are signs of physical injury, such as bruising or scratches.

Protecting Your Teen from Dating Violence

While there are no fool proof ways to protect your children from dating violence, there are several things to do to create safe, secure environments that can help reduce the opportunities for violence:

  • Communicate early with your child and teach her/him about respecting others and themselves. Be clear on expectations for dating and the treatment of others.
  • Be a “friend” on your child’s social media sites so that you can be immediately aware of changes and threatening posts and install a computer monitoring program to protect her/him.
  • Spend time with your child and the person he/she is dating. Nothing replaces personal observations.
  • Check your child’s phone records for repeated calls and texts, especially when your child should be sleeping or in school.
  • Have access to your child’s passwords so that you can find information quickly in case of emergencies.
  • Develop a code with your kids that they can use in texts, phone calls, or online posts that signals you that they are in danger or need.
  • Never punish or criticize your child for being the victim of a controlling partner.
  • Teach your children legitimate self-defense, both in words and physical action.

Most importantly, be sure to get professional help for your child immediately if you feel your child is in danger or in an abusive situation.  Your pediatrician is a great starting place. The doctor can help point you in the right direction toward help and resources in your area to help address this serious situation.

Dating violence is a sad reality for thousands of teenagers, but one that parents can help to change. Establish open communication, know the warning signs, and trust your instincts. Children are not equipped with the emotional maturity to be able to necessarily walk away from situations of dating abuse. Give them as many tools as they can to make the safest choices possible, and always have a presence in their social lives.


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5 Responses

  1. I especially enjoyed this post. thank you. I will tell others about this too.

  2. Louwana says:

    Wow…it is hard to think about this but so important to raise parent’s attention to this issue. Technology can definitely be used by abusers and the kids are already so attached to that technology. Thanks for sharing.

  3. BigDaddy says:

    After reading this, I am planning on a walk and talk with my daughter today, to discuss the ‘gentleman’ she has begun to date. Thanks for sharing this valuable information in an open forum.

  4. [...] to be wasting your time with how to keep a guy chasing you? Nothing that worthwhile, but it is dead http://parentingtodayskids.com/article/warning-signs-your-teen-is-in-an-abusive-relationship/ on accurate. On many occasions you work rather hard on how to keep a guy chasing you to just [...]

  5. [...] Protecting your teen from an abusive relationship – boyfriend/girlfriend, bullies, friends [...]

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