February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. When you think about dating violence you tend to think about adults, not teens. However, you know that violence can happen at any age. 

Before your teen starts dating, have a conversation about dating violence. Tell them that dating can be fun, but not all relationships are healthy. And you want to help them understand the difference. Talk about respect and what it looks like in a relationship. Their feelings should be respected, accepted and they should be treated with care, compassion, kindness. A relationship that makes them feel bad, unsure, or scared isn't healthy.  

If you as a parent notice that interactions between your teen and their boyfriend or girlfriend that are disrespectful or bothersome then have a private conversation with your teen. Talk about what you noticed. Ask them for their thoughts about the situation. Explain why the interaction isn't healthy and how to handle it in the future. Tell your teen that it's their responsibility to teach someone how to treat them. 

If your teen makes excuses for their boyfriend or girlfriend's bad behavior then it's time for you to take a firm position. Explain that abuse isn't acceptable and won't be tolerated. Tell them how you're going to handle the situation and what you expect them to do as well. 

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