Wicomico County, MD – Dating is a normal part of adolescence. These relationships help teens discover who they are and develop social skills. However, because dating is a new experience for teens, many struggle to form and maintain healthy relationships. One in three teens will be in an unhealthy or abusive relationship between the ages of 12 and 18 – this is called teen dating violence.
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. This form of violence can include physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and/or stalking. These behaviors can occur in person and electronically. Any teen, regardless of race, background, gender, and sexual orientation, can experience teen dating violence. Girls and LGBTQ+ youth are at an increased risk for experiencing teen dating violence.
Preventing teen dating violence is a community effort. Raising awareness and educating young people are vital steps. Parents, caregivers, educators, and youth leaders can all be involved.
● Foster open and judgment-free communication with young people. Communication between trusted adults and teens helps them solve problems, guides them in making decisions, and builds their self-esteem.
● Talk with teens about relationships, including healthy and unhealthy relationships. These resources can help: The Relationship Spectrum, 10 Signs of a Healthy Relationship, and 10 Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship.
● Advocate for education on healthy relationships and violence prevention. The Wicomico County Health Department provides education on these and other topics to community groups. Those interested can call (410) 219-7486 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is help available for those experiencing teen dating violence or who suspect that someone else is experiencing teen dating violence.
● Call 1-866-331-9474, text “LOVEIS” to 22522, or chat at loveisrespect.org to communicate with an advocate.
● Talk to a school guidance counselor.
● Contact Life Crisis Center at 410-749-4357.
On Saturday, March 11th, True You Maryland, an adolescent health program at the Wicomico County Health Department, will be hosting Teen Safety Day. Parents, guardians, and teens are invited to learn about basic self-defense, avoiding risky situations, safe dating, and healthy relationships. Learn more and register here: https://tinyurl.com/47ehftkh.