Dear Editor: While dressing for the Father-Daughter dance Saturday night, I probably experienced similar emotions as many dads...it won't be long before she will be going out on a date with someone besides dear old dad. However, as a researcher in the field of violence, I also had the stark realization that my baby girl will also become exposed and vulnerable to the possibility of enduring an abusive relationship. Ironically, the dance occurs during the month recognized as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.
Dating violence in high school has become so prevalent that the Center for Disease Control has made it a focus. It is estimated that one in five high school girls are physically or sexually assaulted. This is an issue not hidden among students with 54 percent knowing of a peer enduring the abuse. Sadly, like family violence, this is abuse under reported at an estimated rate of 1 in 11 students coming forward.
As parents we would like to be able to put a protective bubble around our children, but we know it is not possible. I am routinely asked by parents what can we do to help and my first response is don't be a hypocrite. Demonstrate how couples, even divorced parents, should treat one another without verbal and physical violence. Second, make sure your daughters know they are loved, that they can come to you about their boyfriend, and that they are not going to be judged for finding themselves in a bad relationship. This is the number one barrier for victims of violence.
I know this is a tough topic to digest for any parent, but it is one that we have a duty to acknowledge. If you would like to discover more information regarding dating violence, please go to rockdaleaware.com and follow the links. Please help me "Break the Silence and Stop the Violence."