The thought that one’s teen is being mistreated or abused is horrifying for any parent. If you have suspicions that your teen may be in a relationship that involves emotional, physical or sexual abuse, talk to a pediatric specialist right away. Or, call the police department if your teen might be in danger. The pediatricians at Sunrise Children’s Hospital are always here to listen, and to help parents learn how to help their teens build healthy, respectful relationships.
Understand the risks
Every parent and child wants to believe that mistreatment and abuse will never affect their family. Unfortunately, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services , about one in every 10 teens who have dated have also experienced physical or sexual abuse.
Abusive relationships can affect anyone, but teens may be at a higher risk if they:
- Struggle with depression
- Have experienced violence previously
- Have abused drugs or alcohol
- Have academic problems at school
Teach your teen to recognize unhealthy relationships
It can be tough to have serious conversations with teens. Know that even if your teen appears to not be taking what you say to heart, he or she will still remember it.
An indirect approach may be helpful as an icebreaker. Watch movies with your teen that feature both healthy and unhealthy relationships. Talk about the movies, and point out that a healthy relationship is characterized by:
- Mutual respect and support
- Shared decision-making
- Honest, open conversation
Additionally, both partners should feel free to have friends and enjoy activities outside the company of each other.
Point out the characteristics of unhealthy relationships, such as the following:
- Decisions are made by just one person
- There is pressure to withdraw socially from friends and outside interests
- One partner controls the other’s time and interests
- There is verbal abuse or threats
- There is physical abuse, including objects being thrown
- One partner requires the other to constantly check in with texts or calls
Your teen should also know that unhealthy relationships usually don’t begin that way. At first, the partner may seem caring and loving, but then become gradually more controlling and abusive. Let your teen know that he or she can always come to you for non-judgmental help.
Sunrise Children’s Hospital is your family’s partner in health. We’re here to provide superior care to your children at every stage of their lives, and to support their developmental, psychosocial and medical needs. You can speak with one of our registered nurses in Las Vegas by calling (702) 233-5437.