Staying involved and paying attention can make a difference.
Parents have a crucial role in protecting their teens from abuse, says Vangie Foshee, PhD, adjunct professor of health behavior at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Studies show, for example, that lack of parental supervision makes teenage girls more likely to be affected by dating violence, she says.
To help protect your teens, ask where they're going, establish a curfew, and get to know who their friends are and how they spend their time.
Beyond that, Dr. Foshee advises watching for these signs that your child may be in a potentially dangerous relationship:
- Intense jealously or possessiveness of a dating partner.
- Change in mood or character.
- Unexplained injuries or marks on the body.
- Lying about the behavior of a dating partner.
- Deferring to a partner's every wish.
- Decreased school performance.
- Isolation from family and friends.
- Becoming visibly upset during phone conversations with a dating partner.
If you recognize these signs, talk to your son or daughter about your concerns. Teens worry that parents will be harsh or judgmental. So watch your reactions and try to be supportive.