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How can I talk to my teen about dating violence?

First of all, be sure to talk to your kids about violence and abusive relationships when they are young and continue to talk about it throughout their teen years. Let them know that no form of violence is acceptable behavior; they should not hurt others, and others should not hurt them. Suggest ways of dealing with a violent situation if it occurs.

Second, demonstrating appropriate non-violent ways of acting and positive ways of handling conflict in your relationships is one of the most effective ways to teach your kids to avoid violence. In other words, simply show your kids by example how to behave appropriately. Treating yourself and your partner with respect will teach your kids to do the same in their dating relationships. How you handle conflict with your child will also teach her or him how to behave and how they should be treated.

Third, role playing can be a fun, and it is an effective way of teaching kids and teens appropriate ways of removing themselves from the immediate situation of violence and seeking help. In this case, role playing is simply setting up a pretend situation when dating violence may occur. Each person acts out the role, pretending to be in that situation. Many different solutions can come up during role playing. It's a great way to teach kids and teens what might work and what might not. Do not actually engage in violence during the role play.

Here are some suggestions for role playing. Role playing is most successful when you each take on different roles with each situation.

  • A dating partner becomes jealous and tries to control what the other does, where they go or whom they talk to.
  • On a date, the girl is in her partner's car in a deserted area, and he tries to force her to have sex.
  • One person has just been slapped, pinched, or punched by the dating partner at school.
  • A dating partner calls the other names and threatens him/her.
  • One friend tells another their dating partner abuses them.


For more information see Dating Violence and Your Teen.




Diane G. Kuschel, Former Extension Associate, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri Extension





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