Dating Education matters as much as Drivers Ed, doesn’t it?

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By Kristy Trautmann

We know that 1 in 3 teens will experience physical, sexual, or emotional abuse by a dating partner. This means the vast majority of teens know someone who is in an unhealthy, sometimes violent, relationship.

Even though some young people have strong relationships with parents and mentors, they are more likely to tell a friend about unhealthy relationship patterns than to ask an adult for help. We routinely instruct teens about the rules of the road before letting them drive; but far too often young people are on their own to figure out dating and intimacy.

Although most Americans believe they can recognize warning signs of an abusive relationship, experts say otherwise. Because dating violence myths and misconceptions abound, it is particularly important for educators, counselors, after school workers, mentors, and parents to be attuned to red flags and be ready to talk to youth about healthy and unhealthy relationships.

The seeds of unhealthy and controlling behaviors are often overlooked because they are so common. Early warning signs may include:

  • Jealousy, which initially can feel flattering.
  • Increasingly frequent texting, particularly asking about where a teen is and who they are with.
  • Pressure to spend time with boyfriend/girlfriend at the expense of friends and family.
  • An expectation of sharing everything, including passwords to phone and social media accounts.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Throughout the month, Southwest PA Says No More is making it a priority to generate conversations about healthy relationships and teen dating violence by offering in-person and online Dating Matters training.

Dating Matters: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships is a comprehensive teen dating violence prevention model developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to stop teen dating violence before it starts. The in-person and online training is for adults who work with middle and high school students.

The training consists of graphic novel style scenarios, interactive exercises, and resources. It is free and can be completed in approximately one hour, online. Click here to complete the training.

For In-person training dates and to register, click here.

Please help us continue the conversation about teen dating violence and raise awareness by learning the facts, recognizing warning signs, and ways to initiate conversations about healthy relationships.

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