Teen dating violence is a serious problem, and the number of cases continues to rise. The victims are usually teenaged girls, and the abuse may occur for months before they finally come forward to report their attacker. Some teens do not tell until the abuse is obvious because they are seriously injured, others deny the abuse or make excuses for the abuser.
Is your daughter at risk for teen dating violence? Do not assume she will tell you if her boyfriend starts abusing her. Teen girls are likely to blame themselves if they are abused. They may be too embarrassed to tell or lack the confidence. They might think that no one will believe them if they do report being victimized.
As a parent, it is essential to know if your daughter is at risk for becoming a victim of teen dating violence. If your daughter exhibits any of the following traits she has a greater chance of experiencing dating violence.
Low self-esteem. Girls who do not feel good about themselves are more likely to allow others to abuse, control and use them. If your daughter appears to have low self-esteem take steps to help build her self-esteem so that she will feel better about herself.
Insecurity about appearance. Appearance is extremely important to teenaged girls and greatly affects their self-esteem. If your daughter is unhappy with the way she looks, find a way to enhance her natural beauty. Perhaps a new hairstyle or a little makeup will give her a boost of confidence. If your daughter is overweight, find clothing colors and patterns that compliment her body shape.
Lack of friends. Do not try to be your daughter’s best friend. You are her parent, not her peer. She needs a best friend her own age who shares her interest. Girls who lack friends are more likely to make inappropriate dating choices. They want a social life and are usually willing to settle for the wrong boyfriend rather than being alone. Enroll your daughter in dance classes or sign her up for a community softball team. She needs to participate in activities which will allow her to make female friends.
Lack of interest in school. Teenagers lives revolve around school. A lack of interest in school is a clear sign that your daughter is unhappy with her life. She is likely to become involved with a dating partner who is also not interested in school. This could lead to experimenting with drugs, alcohol and sex. Boredom is a teenager’s worst enemy. Introduce your daughter to a variety of hobbies and try to find something positive that she is interested in. If she is not interested in school, perhaps she will be interested in the arts, sewing, animals or community service.
The teenaged years are challenging. Keep the lines of communication open with your daughter. Show an interest in all areas of her life and offer on-going support. Do whatever it takes to keep your daughter from becoming a victim of teen dating violence.