International Women's Day: Time to discuss dating violence, how parents can prevent it

International Women's Day: Time to discuss dating violence, how parents can prevent it

March 8 is International Women's Day (IWD), and it has been observed on this date since 1975 although the event has been celebrated for 100 years. The official United Nations theme for International Women's Day 2013 is "A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women" and that includes dating violence against teens and even

"We commemorate International Women's Day, we must look back on a year of shocking crimes of violence against women and girls and ask ourselves how to usher in a better future. One young woman was gang-raped to death. Another committed suicide out of a sense of shame that should have attached to the perpetrators. Young teens were shot at close range for daring to seek an education.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement refered to Malala and other cases of violence against women that have been in the headlines, but he also underscores that "[t]hese atrocities, which rightly sparked global outrage, were part of a much larger problem that pervades virtually every society and every realm of life." Violence against women and girls happens around the world and also in our neighborhoods. Sadly, our teen and even tween girls are experiencing violence in their dating relationships.

Many parents of girls are not aware of that dating violence against girls can start as young as 6th grade, according to

They also report that 33 percent of adolescents in America are victim to sexual, physical, verbal, or emotional dating abuse. The Office of Adolescent Health in the Department of Health and Human Services says that more than 10% of teenagers report physical abuse in their relationships.

Even if your tween is not yet dating, there are steps parents can take now to address dating violence.

  • Be a good role model. Show by example the proper way to be in a relationship by being respectful and loving in your own relationships. Take advantage of teachable moments in both real life and media to highlight proper, acceptable behavior and to discuss what constitutes unacceptable behavior. (from the journal Physiology of Violence)
  • Establish and keep lines of communication open. If they can come to you now and continue to do so, they're more likely to come to you when they have a problem, a situation they can't handle, or a crisis.
  • Discuss the topic of respect. Everyone deserves it, everyone should give it.
  • Raise awareness in your schools and community. States and communities are taking steps to stop teen dating violence. To support these efforts, the CDC developed Dating Matters™, a comprehensive teen dating violence prevention initiative based on current evidence about what works. Focused on 11– to 14–year–olds in high-risk, urban communities, it includes preventive strategies for individuals, peers, families, schools and neighborhoods. Dating Matters will be implemented in Chicago, Baltimore, Oakland and Ft. Lauderdale. (Information on their 6th and 7th grade curriculum can be found here.)
  • Some families have parent/child "dates" so that an adult can model the behavior they expect from a potential boyfriend or girlfriend. It also gives some great one-on-one time, which can help with the lines of communication mentioned above. Win/win!

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You may also like: United Nations International Day of the Girl

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