A recent study released by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states that nearly 1.5 million high schoolers in the U.S. are physically abused by their dating partners each year. Additionally, only 33% of these victims ever come forward. These events are not only harmful to teens and their families but can even result in criminal charges and jail time.
How parents can help
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently declared February 2020 to be Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Protection Month, drawing attention to several education initiatives and helpful resources. In addition to making sure children know how to find help, parents can look for these warning signs of abusive teenage relationships.
Recognizing abusive behavior
Signs of teen dating abuse can be difficult to identify, especially since many teenagers can find it hard to share private details with a parent. Additionally, most warning signs register as emotional or mental harm rather than physical. Parents should look out for the following behaviors as signs of an abusive relationship:
- Excessive insecurity, jealousy and anger
- Making their partner feel uncomfortable in social situations
- Monitoring their partner’s whereabouts or making them constantly check-in
- Controlling what their partner wears, who they talk to and who they spend time with
- Asking for or stealing passwords
Teens are new to relationships and might not know how to identify abusive behaviors or even ask for help. It is important that parents pay attention to their teen’s social life so they can spot these threats early and take appropriate action. Catching these signs early can prevent harm or criminal prosecution.
Protect a teen’s future
If parents notice behaviors like these in their teen’s relationship, there is a chance that it could lead to physical abuse, which likely demands involvement by law enforcement. The safety of victims is paramount, but parents should not underestimate the magnitude of sexual assault charges. A criminal record can impact a child’s future, including acceptance to colleges, grants, scholarships, and even job prospects. It is essential for the innocent to take these charges seriously and fight them every step of the way with an experienced criminal defense attorney.