No matter how difficult it is to face, all parents need to understand that teenage domestic violence and dating violence are very real issues. To many of us, it seems inconceivable that this has become such a widespread problem, but whether we can understand it or not, it’s up to us to help protect our kids from this frightening reality.

When it comes to keeping our kids safe, there is no magic formula that is guaranteed to work 100% of the time. There is, however, a simple thing that can be done that will significantly increase the chances that your kids will grow up to be smart, healthy, and safe. What is that simple thing? You. Don’t ever let your own doubts and fears get transferred onto your child (easier said than done sometimes). Let your kids know that they can trust you and that they can come to you and talk with you about anything. This is vitally important. If you prove to your kids throughout their lives that they can talk to you and you will listen, you’ve gone a long way to help keep them safe.

That’s not to say that you won’t get upset or angry with them, but if you teach them to make good decisions and what is right and wronger than they’ll have a much better chance of avoiding these dangerous situations in the first place. Another thing to keep in mind is to let your kids understand tolerance. I’ve seen it happen too often that parents were trying so hard to instill good moral values in their kids that they just came across as judgmental and intolerant. Be very careful how you go about teaching your kids what is right and wrong so you don’t send the message that hatred and intolerance will somehow make them superior.

Here are some other helpful tips to keep your kids safe when they start dating:

1. Talk to your kids about what is appropriate behavior and what isn’t before they start dating. Let them know that excessive ‘teasing’ or possessiveness are signs of trouble and if they meet someone who does that they should stay clear.

2. Even with the best prep, it might happen that your kid is being abused by their boyfriend/girlfriend and won’t tell you. It’s up to you to keep your eyes open. If your child suddenly starts getting ‘accident-prone’ after dating someone new, it’s time to get involved. More than one person has been hit by their significant other and claimed they walked into a door.

3. If you have any suspicions that your teen is involved in an abusive relationship it’s time to take action. Make sure that your child does not come into contact with the abuser if that means sending your kid away to live with their aunt than so be it. It’s also time to contact the authorities and file charges. If your kid is still ‘in love’ with their abuser you need to get them into counseling ASAP, if not this pattern will likely keep playing out throughout their whole life.

Teenage domestic violence is an all too real threat to your teen today. Being proactive and instilling a strong sense of self-confidence in your child from a young age are two of the best things you can do to protect your kids, not only from violence but from many other dangers as well.

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