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“Life is Hard But The Kids Are Alright”

Feb 02, 2012 — Categories:

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Seems somehow appropriate with Valentine’s Day in the middle. I wonder, do teens do Valentines? Do they actually “date” anymore? I wonder about the Glee world of high school which teens are navigating. This blog is a shared endeavor with Emily Cohen, our Program and Learning Coordinator.

Emily Cohen CroppedFebruary is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Seems somehow appropriate with Valentine’s Day in the middle. I wonder, do teens do Valentines? Do they actually “date” anymore? I wonder about the Glee world of high school which teens are navigating. This blog is a shared endeavor with Emily Cohen, our Program and Learning Coordinator.

Emily: I graduated from high school in 2006. My younger sister will graduate from the same high school in 2015. I talked with her, in anticipation of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, about what’s going on in the 9th grade these days.

Some things have shifted in the years between our high school careers, although the typical stories remain: impermeable social groups, butterflies and gossip about who will ask whom to the dance, hyper sensitivity around image and presentation. At one end of the spectrum, there’s bullying and, at the other, obsessive drama over things that, for some bizarre reason, really seem to matter.

It’s easy to remember the less desirable parts of teenagerdom, and it’s helpful to remember the good and exciting parts of high school – the long-awaited freedom of a driver’s license, the best friends who will stay up with you all night, the beginning articulations of a life path and knowing what you really care about.  

As my sister and I have gotten older, our common ground has gotten bigger. Little by little, we’ve started conversations about the parts of growing up that are really hard to know how to navigate. I remember the importance of a few key adults that helped me through some rough patches of high school. They were the ones that created a safe space before I needed it. I hope my sister’s network of trusted adults continues to grow.


Marie: My youth ministry experience was early in my career and so I decided to check in with my godson who is entering freshman year in high school to get a better understanding of teen relationships today.

He knows about my work and his mom also works on domestic violence. He has been raised with a pretty high degree of awareness of gender violence issues. He’s a good kid and seems to hang out with good kids. But he seems to have a pretty realistic picture of his peers and his setting.  Sex (of the friendly benefits variety), Drugs and Rock & Roll. And lots of trash talk. For him and his friends, teasing and play; for others, more aggressive behavior. Sometimes leading to staged fights between guys to prove who is the tough guy and then to post on YouTube. Testosterone poisoning rules!

So I asked, “What would you do if you knew a friend of yours was being hurt in a relationship?”  He responded, “Support my friend and tell the other person to stop it.” A good place to begin... How can we affirm and encourage this behavior in our young people?

One in ten high school students have experienced physical dating violence. Factor in psychological and sexual violence, some studies have found the number to be 1 in 4; only 33% of teens who were in an abusive relationship ever told anyone about the abuse; 81% of parents don’t believe teen dating violence is an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue. Dating violence can be a precursor for intimate partner violence in adulthood and put victims at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, and risky sexual behavior.

In facing these startling statistics and limited awareness about the reality, our colleague, Lizann Bassham, says: “The most important resource in helping teens develop healthy peer dating relationships is a network of trusted, healthy adults in their lives.” How can we be there and willing to talk about these things for the teens in our lives?

Join us on February 7 for a free webinar with Rev. Lizann Bassham on “Helping Teens Develop Healthy Relationships”.

Emily Cohen, Program and Learning Coordinator

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune, Founder and Senior Analyst

FaithTrust Institute

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teen dating violence

Posted by Catherine at Jul 16, 2012 07:40 PM
Emily and Marie, thank you for your valuable comments about teen relationships and dating. And Emily, for those of us who are far removed from the teen age group, I appreciate your insights and the window into what is the same yet very different for teens now.