When I found out the theme for this month was “Love” I mentally prepared a very Mary-Poppins-ish piece on if we moms truly love ourselves and how that filters down to our girl’s view of herself. It’s important, to be sure, but then I responded to some teen emails that wrecked me, and I found myself digging deeper into teen violence stats. In my research, I discovered it to be National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and the Lord has moved me to address differently.
Eighty-one percent of parents do not believe that teen dating violence is an issue or admit to not knowing it is an issue yet 1 in 3 U.S. adolescents is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. When looking at the physical side alone, the CDC discovered 1 in 10 teens toreport being hit or physically hurt, kissed, touched, or physically forced into sexual intercourse in the last year. We best agree that teen dating violence is real.
I want to believe that we fail to recognize this problem because we look at these kids as young and cute. We get caught up in their butterflies and the excitement of being wanted so we err on the side of assumed mutual goodness and begin discussion of date plans and, maybe, sexual boundaries without clear definition of what is and isn’t healthy.
Of parents with children 18 and under, 73% have not had a discussion with their children about violence in the home. Likewise, 3 in 4 (73%) have not discussed sexual assault with their children even though a sexual assault occurs every 107 seconds.
We’re not doing them any favors. Our silence is begetting theirs. Only 33% of teens who were in a violent relationship ever told anyone about the abuse. It’s time that we get educated and educate the children we love. It’s time we talk.
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