According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, one in four dating adolescents report being abused – verbally, emotionally, sexually, or physically. Let’s take a look at these warning signs and what a parent can do.

  1. The abuser (the boy or the girl) demands a great deal of the other’s time and attention. If you find your teenager excluding friends and possibly even your own family, this could be an indicator.
  2. There is a warped view of extreme jealousy. The abused partner can view this as love and concern.
  3. The personality of the abused person changes radically.  A parent might witness depression or aggression toward the parent or siblings, especially if questioned about the relationship.
  4. The teenager becomes disinterested in outside activities.  This is evidenced by poor performance in school, dropping out of extra-curricular activities, loss of interest in church and youth activities.
  5. Technology has the two bonded 24 hours a day. This isolates the abused partner from others and is another sign of an unhealthy relationship.

What can a parent do?

  • If a parent suspects a destructive relationship, look for opportunities for impersonal discussion. Talk about things you might find in the news that focuses on the issue.  Then the discussion becomes less intimidating.
  • If this encourages your son or daughter to open the door to a more personal conversation monitor your language. Refrain from the use of the word “abuse.” Instead you can ask about how often the boyfriend checks up her. Ask her about the reasons for her decision to drop out of various activities.
  • When you’re certain there’s a problem focus on your child. Be supportive and avoid conflict that might cause her to defend rather than deal with the truth.
  • Be pro-active, helping your kids avoid a destructive relationship. Look for opportunities to help your child understand the aspects of a healthy relationship.
  • Communicate early and often, sharing about the importance of respect and trust in a relationship. Let your child know that uncontrolled anger or disrespectful language is never an example of love.
  • Don’t allow a boyfriend or girlfriend to separate your child from the family. Monitor calls and texts  — the quantity and time of day.  An abuser will want to have 24 hour a day control. Be smart to help your son or daughter be smart!

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