Family Advocacy preps for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

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Family Advocacy preps for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

by: Valerie Seitz, Family Advocacy Outreach Manager | .
Outreach Manager | .
published: January 25, 2013

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Teenage relationships are intense. Whether it's dating, friends or family relationships, teenagers manage a lot of interactions on a daily basis. All of these relationships can be great, but sometimes they can take a toll on teens.

Healthy teen relationships are necessary as you grow and mature, but figuring out which relationships aren't so healthy isn't always easy.

The fact is that teen relationships can be very intimate and serious. That can be good as it helps teens prepare for strong relationships throughout their lives. However, it can also be bad as teen dating can lead to risky behavior or even abuse.

According to Illinois State University Professor Laura E. Berk in her book "Infants, Children, and Adolescents," the average relationship among 12 to 14-year-olds lasts five months, and the average relationship among 16-year-olds lasts two years.

Five months is half a school year, which is a long time for the average middle schooler. And two years is half of high school.

These relationships are not just long, but meaningful as teens with partners seek companionship, emotional and physical intimacy, affection, and social support.

Often teens in warm and caring relationships tend to end up in healthy, committed relationships later in life. These relationships teach skills such as cooperation, appropriate social behavior, compromise, empathy, and sensitivity.

Unfortunately, some unhealthy teen relationships can have a down side as well. Sometimes they can lead to delinquency, substance abuse, and sexual activity.

Teen dating experiences can be improved when parents and teens talk about things like what's normal and all right in relationships. Families should also talk about how television shows can portray teen dating and often encourage promiscuous behavior.

In an effort to raise awareness of healthy relationships, the Senate declared the first week of February as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Week in 2004, which grew to a month-long observance since 2010 at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice. In accordance with this month of national awareness, the Family Advocacy Program is offering educational seminars to all members of the military community on Okinawa.

Family Advocacy is also hosting a "Help, my teen is dating" seminar that includes a video by author, speaker and executive director of Date Safe Project, Mike Domitrz.

Remember, some teen relationships can be great, but sometimes they can be problematic. The most important thing is that if you're in a relationship, you're happy about it. Learn how to help our teens understand, develop and keep positive relationships, whether it is online, at school or at home.

For more information, contact Valerie Seitz, Family Advocacy Outreach Manager at 634-3361.