1 in 5 teens experiences some form of dating abuse: Presentation for parents to be held on May 25 in Wausau

One in five teenagers will experience dating violence.
One in five teenagers will experience dating violence.(WEAU)
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 9:59 AM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Parents of tween and teens know it can be a very challenging time in your child’s life.

It’s also the right time to talk to your kids about teen dating violence.

A presentation will be held on Thursday, May 25 from 6-7:30 p.m. to help parents learn the signs and begin that conversation. Registration is required. Call 715-848-1457 or email centralwigroups@childrenswi.org

It is held at Children’s Wisconsin located at 705 S. 24th Ave. suite 400.

Teen dating violence is a form of intimate partner violence or domestic violence.

“It can be physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, and it can really impact their health and well-being not just now as a teen, but in their future as well,” said Interpersonal Violence Prevention Consultant Lea Hegge.

She said sadly teen dating violence is all too common, with about 1 in 5 teens experiencing some form of abuse.

“That’s pretty similar nationwide. We also see that most students who are in same-sex relationships, it’s about the same numbers, but students who identify as bisexual or transgender are at a greater risk for victimization,” said Hegge.

She said there are signs parents should be aware of.

“Spending more time away from their family, away from their friends, away from activities that they used to like to do. Maybe a drop in grades, change in appearance--  it can be a weight gain or weight loss. It can be changes in their clothing, kind of away from their baseline behavior. It could also be injuries that they’re hiding, or that they can’t explain or don’t want to explain,” said Hegge.

Hegge said that the topic of teen dating violence can be a difficult conversation to start.

“I would say start the conversations early, and often. I’d also say there’s kind of two ways that the conversation can go a little bit easier. One way is to start by talking about healthy relationships, rather than talking to them as ‘this is something that might happen to you’. But what does a healthy relationship look like to you? What does respect look like? What kinds of things do you want in your relationship in order to feel comfortable? The other way is to talk about it through the bystander lens. So teens are starting to feel more independent. They might feel a little bit invincible, ‘That’s not going to happen to me’. But they have deep meaningful relationships with their friends. So if you can talk about it in a way for them look out for warning signs for their friends, protect their friends, making sure they understand what it looks like. that’s kind of a disarming approach,” said Hegge.

The presentation is free. Registration is required.