Dear Editor: February is recognized as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Although there are many "awareness months," this is one that is becoming more important because of its compounding effects. As a father and the Chief Probation Officer, I have an opportunity to see the effects of how behaviors of teens carry throughout their lives.
Your teen's involvement with dating violence does not occur overnight. It begins with 72 percent of 8th and 9th graders "dating" in an innocent manner. But, scarily, 54 percent of teens dating in high school may escalate to experiencing dating violence in the form ranging from emotional degrading language to sexual assaults. This creates the need for parents to continuously encourage communication with your teen.
Remind teens that it is our job as parents to be open to discussing this topic, to provide a safe environment for them, and to make sure that we do not blame them for being a victim. Also, keep in mind that if your teen is not experiencing dating violence, there is a good chance that they know someone who is a victim or abuser. Please help your teen help their friends.
For more information, please go rockdaleaware.com and "click" on the Teen Dating Violence tab. Please keep in mind that an "awareness month" is an attempt to generate a response, however, this is responsibility of parents on an everyday basis.