Confronting Teens Involved in Dating Violence

If You Think Your Child Is a Victim of Dating Violence

If you suspect your child is in a violent relationship, ask your child about the relationship. Be specific about why you are concerned. If your child chooses to talk with you, listen quietly, without judging. If your child does not want to discuss it with you, encourage your child to talk with another trusted adult and provide the names of people and organizations that can help. This could be a relative, friend of the family, clergy member, teacher, school counselor, coach or even the police. A local domestic violence program or the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) can tell you if there is a program or support group in your community.

If your child does open up to you, focus your response on your child's needs and feelings and your concern for his/her well-being. Do not criticize or attack the abusive partner. Your child will need to make the actual decision to end the abusive relationship, not you. Ask, "What can I do to help you?" Encourage your child to talk with a counselor who specializes in teen dating violence, and continue to support your child by being loving, open and non-judgmental. Whether your teen is ready to leave the abusive partner or not, it is important to encourage your teen to think about ways to stay safe, for example, by making sure friends are around so that he or she is not alone with the partner.

If You Think Your Child Is Hurting Their Girlfriend or Boyfriend

If you suspect that your child is hurting someone in a dating relationship, it is important to talk with your child about your concerns. Before you talk with your child, have specific examples in mind. Listen to what your child has to say, and make it clear that you love and support him or her. You have a responsibility, however, to make it clear that the behavior is unacceptable and must stop. Do not let your child deny or minimize the violence or to make excuses. Help him/her to recognize that violence is not an acceptable way to solve problems. Offer to help him/her to locate community resources that can provide counseling. If your child's behavior is truly dangerous, you may have to make the difficult decision to report your teenís violence to law enforcement.