by Jason Luthor

February marks a time for teens to think about dating and the violence they sometimes experience in a relationship. Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is designed to bring awareness to the level of violence that teens sometimes experience in their dating life. It’s estimated that every year, more than 1.5 million high school students suffer from dating violence. Unfortunately, it’s estimated that three out of four parents have never talked to their children about domestic violence. For many teens, this leaves them unaware of when they should seek help or who they can turn to.

Another major warning sign is if your child suddenly becomes more isolated. Teens in abusive relationships often stop seeing friends and family. This pattern of isolation can key you into the fact that your teen is currently suffering from abuse. A more blatant sign of abuse is if your child’s significant other is verbally abusive or extremely jealous of who your child hangs out with. Such obvious signs should be considered immediate warnings that your child needs help.

Controlling behavior is another red flag to watch out for. If a significant other tries to check up on your child constantly, this is a major sign that they might also have abusive tendencies. If your child is always apologizing for their significant other, that might be a warning sign as well. Of course, besides these signs, you should also be on the lookout for blatant signs of abuse. If a significant other loses their temper easily, if your child comes home with unexplained injuries, or if your child mentions that their significant other has a violent temper, it’s time to get involved.

Part of talking to your child about these issues involves letting them know who they can turn to if they need help. As family members, you’re their first line of defense against abuse. However, there are also other places for an abused teen to turn if they feel they need help. For instance, teens to who need to talk to someone with experience in this area can contact the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline.

Both parent and teens can also visit various web resources if they’d like to know more. Love is Respect and the Date Safe Project are just two websites where you can learn more about teen dating violence. For more information about resources that can help you or your child, visit www.teendvmonth.org.