Friday letters: Help teens avoid dating abuse

October 25, 2013 

— The high school years are a time for teens to learn about healthy relationships and ways to avoid unhealthy ones, and October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a perfect time for parents, educators and faith organizations to start a conversation with teens about healthy relationships and safe dating practices. One in three teens in the United States falls victim to physical, emotional or verbal abuse by a dating partner. That’s 1.5 million high school students nationwide who experience dating abuse each year.

Parents may find it difficult to discuss this topic with their teens, but that shouldn’t prevent us from educating them about ways to spot potential abuse early. Teens need relational skills and support as they begin to date — often, the helping hand and the listening ear of a trusted adult. There are tremendous resources available to help teens avoid dating abuse at loveisnotabuse.com, a national non-profit agency dedicated to promoting healthy relationships and preventing dating abuse.

If you’re not a parent of a teen, you still can help prevent dating and domestic violence. HopeLine is an initiative by Verizon Wireless that collects donated phones and distributes them to domestic violence survivors in need. The phones that can’t be refurbished are recycled and turned into cash grants that support violence prevention programs and victim-care shelters and agencies. Visit verizonwireless.com/hopeline to get involved by donating an old cell phone.

Steven Bishop

Columbia

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