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Keeping teens safe from physical abuse while dating

February is National Teen Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Many teens in New Jersey and everywhere else engage in dating relationships. Most relationships are fine, but some do involve dating violence or domestic violence.

One in ten teens say they have been physically abused by their partner and many more have been emotionally abused. It can happen to both boys and girls and within any culture and economic class. Parents have a unique opportunity to help their teen through an abusive relationship. Some signs that their teen is involved in such a relationship includes slipping grades, depression, anxiety, having trouble sleeping, unexplainable physical bruises and use of drugs or alcohol. If signs of abuse are recognized by parents they should let their teen know that they want to help and that the abuse is not their fault. If their teen does not want to talk to them, another adult, such as a counselor, family member or medical professional could be an option.

When a teen is involved in an abusive relationship it can be devastating to parents. Parents may feel helpless in defending their teen. However, in the worst of situations a restraining order can be useful in keeping the abuser away from the teen and making sure the abuse does not happen again. Sometimes parents need to help their teens through unsafe situations and do whatever it takes to keep them safe.

Teen dating violence is common in New Jersey and parents can be good advocates for children who are abused. There are options to help keep children safe, and that can include obtaining a restraining order against the abuser.

Source: Press Republican, "Helping teens avoid dating violence," Dr. Lewis First, Feb. 15, 2014

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