With Valentine’s Day this month, February seems to be the month of romance. Teenagers and young adults, especially, might fill this month with dates for dances or the big night itself. But February isn’t just for romance; it’s Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Especially with young people, there is a risk of dating violence. As your son or daughter prepares for Valentine’s, make sure they stay safe and that more than their hearts stay whole.

Hands Unite: Do Your Part

This is the theme for 2018, sponsored by loveisrespect.org. The organization wants “to empower young people to build healthy relationships from the ground up. Your hands are a tool for creation, and they play a role in ending dating abuse.” Everyone can do their part to end abuse in teen and young adult relationships. Here are our tips for both parents and young adults.

Healthy Relationships from the Start

For Parents:

Step in early! Raise your children to understand what is healthy in a relationship and what is not. This includes teaching your children that bullying and rough teasing is not love. It can be harmful to both sides if you tell a little girl that a boy pulling her hair or pushing her around has a crush on her. While it might not cause harm at a young age, it can lead to warped views of how to show or receive affection later in life. Instead, teach your children how to show affection without harm. Teach them mutual respect rather than bullying-as-love. Teach them to respect one another’s personal spaces. Your teenagers will have happier dating lives when they get older!

If you think your child is in an abusive relationship, talk to them about it.


  • Be confrontational.
  • Give ultimatums like “if you don’t break up, you’re grounded.”
  • Bash their partner, however mad you are at their actions.
  • Overreact, blame them, or show disappointment.

You want to be careful you don’t make your child go back into the abusive relationship. Plus, leaving the relationship can be a dangerous time for your teen; they’ll need your support for safety.


  • Give support.
  • Accept what your child tells you as truthful. Believe them, and they’ll open up to you.
  • Be sure to discuss the behavior, not the person. (i.e. “I don’t like that he/she tracks you wherever you go.”)
  • Remember that your teenager or young adult may still feel as if they are in love, so handle that with care.
  • Let your child know that you are concerned for their safety. Say things like “You don’t deserve this,” or “You deserve a healthy relationship.”
  • Let them know that this is not a normal and healthy relationship.

Signs of Abuse in Teen Dating

For Teenagers/Young Adults:

Abuse can happen in any type of relationship, even if you aren’t really “dating.” Whatever the situation–hanging out, “hooking up” (which may or may not include sex), dating, or even marriage–your partner should not show disrespect or control. He or she should respect your boundaries, physical and emotional. He or she should not prevent you from seeing other friends or spending time away from them.

It can be difficult, also, to date someone your family and friends do not like. Teenagers might come across this frequently. If you do see this in your relationship, consider why others don’t like your partner–and, possibly, why your partner does not like them. They may be seeing something you do not. Especially if you are feeling isolated or like you can’t be honest with others, you may be in an unhealthy or abusive relationship.

Above all, your partner should not make you feel uncomfortable, scared, isolated, or threatened. These are warning signs of a bad relationship that could harm you physically or emotionally.

If you don’t feel safe discussing your relationship with someone you know, you can call loveisrespect 24/7 at 1-866-331-8453, or text “loveis” to 22522.