Union Parish DART calls attention to teen violence

In 2010, Congress declared February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. It is a great reminder for DART, parents, caregivers and teachers to begin a conversation about preventing dating violence.
We teach our children from a young age to be kind to one another. Hitting is never OK, calling someone names is not kind, and yelling at someone is not how we ask for things. These lessons should not end when kids leave the playground. Promoting respectful and non-violent relationships as kids grow into teenagers and young adults is a vital step to preventing domestic abuse in adulthood.
Many teens get bombarded with warnings in adolescence—the red flags that denote unsafe people and the possible dangers that could follow. We tend to focus on the scary stuff because it seems the most important, and that’s not exactly wrong. However, what many caring adults forget is that knowing what a healthy partner looks like is just as important as knowing the signs of an abusive one.
When talking to teens about dating abuse, let them know that the biggest indicator of a safe or unsafe relationship is going to be that little voice inside themselves. Do they feel safe and comfortable with their friend? Can they talk to their date about their feelings? Does the relationship move at a pace that they are okay with? If so, could be signs of green flags!
However, if they feel uneasy when around a dating partner or worry about upsetting that individual, that could signal red flags! It is important to note that red flags can show up any time in a relationship. A dating partner may start out by checking in at all green flags only to change into a different dating partner later on in the relationship. Abuse can start any time in a relationship but rarely does an abuser stop abusing. If anything, abuse most likely will escalate until it is out of control.
Addressing dating abuse is important. Teens who are subjected to abuse may not realize it right away that what is happening is considered abuse and may blame themselves for putting up with it. Teenagers might also worry about the social implications of identifying the abuser. It is important to help young people navigate these complex issues. A caring adult in their life can make all the difference in the world.
DART staff is available to all of Union Parish. If you or someone you know requires the assistance of our staff advocate, Mrs. Jackie Hill, please call our office at 318.368.6181. If anyone is in immediate danger please contact law enforcement for assistance.

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