February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. The theme for 2023 is “Be About It.” This continues last year’s theme of “Talk About It.”
This month is a chance for young people, and those who support them, to have meaningful conversations. Talk about what it means to be in a healthy relationship. Share examples of positive and safe relationships. Talk about what an unhealthy relationship looks like. Talk about the possible choices one can make if a relationship is unhealthy or abusive. Then, be about creating our community as one that is free of relationship abuse.
Be about… education
In a healthy relationship, both people feel good about themselves. Both can be vulnerable and set boundaries. Both feel free to think, feel, and act for themselves.
Know the differences between healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships.
Learn how digital abuse is real for our teens.
1 in 4 teens is harassed or abused through technology, but only 9 percent seek any help and almost never from their parents and teachers.
84 percent who reported digital abuse said they were also psychologically abused.
52 percent said they were also physically abused.
33 percent said they were also sexually coerced.
Statistics from Urban Institute – https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/one-four-dating-teens-feels-abused-and-harassed-through-digital-technology
Be about… setting healthy boundaries
Boundaries come in many different forms. Emotional boundaries are about being clear on what you are feeling. Saying no, refusing to be blamed for something that you had no part in and having places of emotional support outside of a relationship are all healthy. Healthy intellectual boundaries involve respecting different viewpoints, beliefs, ideas, and values. Sharing opinions is not always about being liked, but often about noticing if you are being respected. Physical boundaries are about voicing how you do and do not want to be touched. Asking for space and being able to say what you like and don’t like are signs of a healthy boundaries.
Digital boundaries have become increasing important. Texting and other digital media help us stay connected with people we care about. But it can become unhealthy if we don’t set boundaries.
Talk with your friends about expectations and risks involved in using digital media.
Privacy matters so don’t share passwords. If your password is easy or you have not updated it recently, change it. Make sure it is at least twelve characters long. Use a mix of upper- and lower-case characters, numerals, and symbols.
Set your accounts to “friends only” or “private.”
Do not give out personal information or account numbers.
Don’t spread rumors online. Call out misinformation and gossip.
Do not respond to mean or threatening messages. Do not comment to defend yourself. “Liking,” commenting on, or sharing mean or threatening messages encourages bullies. Silence is often the best action.
Block accounts of anyone who threatens, bullies, or embarrasses you on social media.
Talk with a trusted adult if you are bullied or threatened.
Be about… sharing resources
That’s Not Cool (https://thatsnotcool.com/), Love is Respect (https://www.loveisrespect.org/) and Break the Cycle (https://www.breakthecycle.org/) are online resources that support young people to build healthy relationships and create a culture without abuse.
The Futures Without Violence Respect Effect app, https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/respect-effect-app/ can help young people recognize, avoid, and prevent dating violence in their lives. The app provides daily challenges to help teens become a supportive partner, set boundaries, and self-care.
Advocates to End Domestic Violence is a resource here in Carson City. They offer many programs to help those who are or have experienced abuse is relationships. They have a 24-hour Texting Hotline: Text AEDV to 20121 or SARA to 20121.
These resources can help teens know when a relationship is healthy and where to go to for support when it is not.
For additional resources and information about Carson City Health and Human Services, go to www.gethealthycarsoncity.org, follow us on Twitter @CCHealthEd, “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cchhs, follow us Instagram @gethealthycarsoncity, call us at 775-887-2190, or visit us at 900 E. Long St., in Carson City.