Saturday, April 13, 2024
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UC Expert: Teen Dating Violence More Common

Abusive relationships among teenagers are more common than ever, according to the UC Family Justice Center’s Dasha Cross.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month. Cross said one in three high schoolers are subjected to violence in their relationship. Cross said teens and their parents need to be mindful of warning signs.

“Especially with teenagers, like, on social media, or if they’re just texting you nonstop and wanting to know where you are all the time,” Cross said. “Wanting to know who you’re hanging out with and just displaying those controlling behaviors, but also any type of manipulating behaviors.”

Cross said troubling behavior early in a relationship frequently evolves into physical and sexual violence. She said with cell phones and location services, patterns of unhealthy behavior are turning into abuse and violence at an alarming rate among teens.

She said teenagers need trusted adults who can take preventative action when a teenager shares concerns or fears.

“I think just being able to have open and honest conversations about the relationships that their teenagers are in,” Cross said. “And also, kind of talking with them about what the red flags look like in relationships, but also what the green flags look like so that they know what to look for and what to look out for.”

Cross said teens should be willing to have conversations with their partner early in a relationship so that if unhealthy behaviors do begin to trend toward violence, there is space for communication about how to make the relationship more healthy for both parties. She said violence and abuse are not uncommon between friends or family members, but the added element of jealousy can kick-start controlling behavior that progresses into violence.

“If something makes you uncomfortable or somebody made you feel either unsafe or just anxious, kind of looking at what those behaviors were that made you feel that way,” Cross said. “Hopefully they’re not straight-up abusive, but they could just be an unhealthy thing that they’re just displaying in the relationship. Just taking notice of those red flags.”

Cross is the UC Family Justice Center Coordinated Community Response Specialist.

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