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Information for Parents

The idea that our children could be in abusive relationships may be too horrible to think about, but it's something we need to confront and understand. Abuse often starts small, but if you don't deal with it early, it can become something more serious, and form a pattern of repeated behavior that continues through adult life.

A survey (in PDF) of teens (ages 15-18), tweens (ages 11-14), and their parents conducted by Teen Research Unlimited and Liz Claiborne found that most parents were surprisingly unaware of their children's dating lives. Fifty-four percent of parents felt they knew 'a lot' about their tween's dating habits, while only 35 percent of tweens agreed that their parents knew 'a lot.' Parents were also unaware of the amount of dating abuse that goes on in schools.

Warning Signs Your Child May Be in an Abusive Relationship
Here are some warning signs your teen may be in an abusive relationship:
  • They seem troubled instead of happy when going out on a date or talking/texting.
  • They constantly worry about whether their girlfriend or boyfriend will approve of anything they do.
  • Their girlfriend or boyfriend keeps them away from the family, and seems resentful of your child spending time with you.
  • They seem depressed or preoccupied all the time.
  • They constantly defend or make excuses for the boyfriend/girlfriend's behavior.