(WTVM) - This is teen dating violence awareness month. Sad isn't it, that such behavior even exists? Much less that it merits a month set aside to discuss it.
Experts like Kyle Bair, Executive Director of the Sexual Assault Support Center here in Columbus, say teen dating violence can happen among teens as young as sixth graders, and that one in three high school girls can be in a violent dating relationship.
That makes it imperative for parents talk to their girls and boys about mutual respect, and what constitutes a dangerous relationship.
Texting and cell phones can play an unhealthy role. One in five teens are encouraged to send sexually explicit material to someone they date.
Verbal abuse can escalate to manipulation, and then actual physical violence.
Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to use drugs, have multiple sex partners, and abuse friends and family as well.
So before you let your teenager date, sit down and discuss self respect with them. Teach them that no one controls them, and they need to make good decisions now, because those decisions will shape the rest of their lives.
Dating can and should be fun. It should be a chance to get to know someone and share common interests. However, teens also need to know the danger signs: control, manipulation and unwanted physical attention. That way, they can end a bad relationship before it threatens their safety and their future.
WTVM Editorial Committee
1909 Wynnton Road
Columbus, GA 31906