One of the things going on that we don't want to ignore is the Teen Dating Violence awareness going on this month of February. Abigail Fellows from the SASA Crisis Center in Hastings visited with News 5 about this topic.
Amy: What would you have people remember about teen violence?
Abigail: Well, February is the month that we really focus on it, but especially throughout the whole school year we go around and speak especially at middle schools and high schools. We talk to teens about the importance of relationships and the thing I've learned when talking to teens and tweens is a lot of time they don't know how to be in a relationship. It's their first time that they've been dating.
Amy: They may not recognize some of the things that are right or wrong with it or potentially dangerous.
Abigail: Right. They learn from their peers and from things they see on TV or in the media and so a lot of times they may be doing things that are unhealthy in a relationship or their partner is abusive to them and they don't even realize it because they think it's normal and no one has really taught them how to be in a relationship. So, that's my job. I try to teach them what's healthy and unhealthy in a relationships.
Amy: Ok, and, of course, this is something that should be happening in the home with the parents there, but, obviously, not everybody is in the ideal situation and so what would you tell these people? What are the warning signs? And what goes into a healthy relationship?
Abigail: About 80% of parents don't know if dating violence is an issue for their teens or in their teen's school. So, I think it's important for parents to educate themselves about the signs. If their child is isolating themselves, if their child has suddenly dropped interest in things that are important to them like sports or school or their friends, maybe if they're spending a lot of time on their phone or computer more than normal. Just some warning signs that they might be in an abusive relationship or a dating partner is being violent towards them and the teen is hiding it from the parent. It's just important for the parents to ask their teen about their relationships and what's going on.
You can go to SASAcenter.org for more information on teen dating violence.