It’s Just Kids Being Kids

An unnamed teenage girl was at the mall with her unnamed 17 year old boyfriend. Reportedly the boy “bumped” the girl with his vehicle and knocked her down. He then took off, in the process he ran over the girl’s legs.

The girl was able to give the police his name and license plate number and police arrested him at his home. Investigators are seeking felonious assault charges and the girl is being treated at a hospital.

Too young for their names to be in the paper, yet old enough for a domestic problem.

When do you start watching your children for signs of domestic violence? When they start picking boyfriends and girlfriends (often even before they are allowed to date).  Children as young as twelve and thirteen have reported being slapped, pinched, hit, kicked or otherwise abused by their boyfriend or girlfriend. Many do not even realize that it is abuse. More and more boys are reporting being abused by their girlfriends.

What can you do? First, when they start picking ‘boyfriend’s’ or ‘girlfriends’ start talking to them honestly about how they should treat each other and how they should expect to be treated- gear it to their age group, but talk about signs of controlling behavior, their right to make their own choices, the differences between compromise and control. Talk to them about how important it is for them to let you know if there is a problem so you can help them to handle it.  

If you observe controlling behavior among your child’s friends, help your child to stand up for his/her self. It is important they learn to do it themselves. Be encouraging and supportive.

What do you do if your child tells you they have been abused? First make contact with a domestic violence agency and request their assistance. Understand that more than the physical pain, domestic violence is also detrimental to a child’s self esteem and can become a pattern. Once a pattern becomes a habit, the child might get to the point where they identify most with an abusive personality. Be encouraging and supportive and honest. In some cases counseling might be advisable.

What do you do if you find out your child has been the abuser? Get them into an anger management program. Individual counseling might also be needed. Help them learn new ways to handle anger and frustration. Teach them how to compromise. Talk to them about the long term consequences they face with controlling and abusive behavior, and how it may get them their way in the short term, but in the long term they could lose everything. Be supportive and encouraging as they learn new behaviors.

When I say talking- I actually mean communicating. Listening as well as talking.

Stop the patterns before they become habits.

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