February 2022 is the 12th anniversary of Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month (TDVAM). This is an issue that impacts everyone – not just teens – but their parents, teachers, friends and communities as well. Together, we can raise the nation’s awareness about teen dating violence and promote safe, healthy relationships.
Dating violence is more common than people think, especially among teens and young adults: one in three teens in the US will experience physical, sexual, or emotional abuse from someone they’re in a relationship with before they become adults, and nearly half (43%) of college women report experiencing violent or abusive dating behaviors.
Every February, young people and their loved ones join together across the country for a national effort to raise awareness about the issue of teen dating violence through Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM). This annual, month-long push focuses on advocacy and education to stop dating abuse before it starts.
What Is the Impact of Teen Dating Violence?
Nationwide, youth age 12 to 19 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault. Studies show that approximately 10% of adolescents report being the victim of physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner during the previous year. Girls are particularly vulnerable to experiencing violence in their relationships and are more likely to suffer long-term behavioral and health consequences, including suicide attempts, eating disorders, and drug use.
Who is at risk?
Children and Teens who are feeling isolated.
Children and Teens who suffer from anxiety and or depression.
Children and Teens who are angry with their parents or feel ignored.
Children and Teens who feel they do not fit in or are misunderstood.
Children and Teens who have been or are currently being bullied in school or online.
Children and Teens who have experienced physical or sexual abuse at home.
Children and Teens who have low self -esteem. They are attracted to anyone who offers love and affirms their value.
These children are prime targets for manipulation. They pray on their emotions and insecurities or may bribe them with gifts. The predators may also threaten them and their families with violence or exposure.
Depression, isolation, boredom, and loneliness have become huge problems for our teenagers, leaving them vulnerable to Online predators. They are taking advantage of our children being home and online to exploit, bully, abuse, and groom them for sexual exploitation, kidnapping, and sex trafficking.
In 2021, NCMEC’s CyberTipline received 29.3 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation, an increase of 35% from 2020.
Predators are looking to exploit your children online by:
Convincing them to share sexually explicit photos.
Convincing them to meet in person for sexual activity and possible abduction.
Using blackmail tactics to profit from the sales of their videos and photos.
Convincing them to engage in sexual conversations, online role-playing, and sexting.
Predators can reach out to your children from any country in the world. They have an endless supply of victims. They know your children are at home. If one child doesn't respond to their tactics, they just move on to the next. Child pornography is a multi-billion -dollar industry growing by leaps and bounds.
If Children are using computers, they are not too young to start having conversations about safety online.
Some Safety Tips to Teach Your Children/Teens
Remember, do not post photos that include personal information in them like your school or home in the background.
Manage your digital footprint- share photos with friends and family only.
Turn off geo-targeting in your apps to keep your location private.
Some Additional Safety Tips for Parents:
Know your Children/Teens online friends.
Learn what parental internet controls are available to you.
Keep an open dialogue with your children/teens about safety online.
Join social media platforms that your kids frequent. Observe the online content and stay informed.
5 internet filtering services for families: https://endsexualexploitation.org/articles/kids-online-more-thanks-to-covid-19-her e-are-five-internet-filtering-services-for-families/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_m edium=email&utm_campaign=ncose
What do you do if your child is a victim of an online predator? If you find out that your child is being groomed, bullied, or coerced by a predator do not erase the evidence. Save the chats. Screenshot the conversations. The authorities will use this data to try and track down the offender. Do not shame or blame your child. They will already be doing that to themselves. Let them know you are grateful that they are safe and that you will help them to stop the predator. Immediately block the offender. Call your local law enforcement.
Here are some resources to reach out to for help and for additional education about staying safe online.
Call the Cyber Tipline at 1-800-The- Lost.
The tip line is part of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). They offer support to victims and their families.
Offer education to families, schools, and communities for online safety. They have a curriculum for K-2 and 3rd-5th. Printable handouts on topics like smartphone use and sexting for teens.
If you are looking for an opportunity to volunteer and make a difference in this cause, please visit our website to get involved.
Help Us Save Lives!
Learn how you can make a difference.