Violence and Teen Dating

The month of February is noted for several major events and special days. There is Groundhog Day, Super Bowl Sunday, Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras, Presidents' Day, Black History Month, Houston Livestock and Rodeo, among a whole bunch of others.

February is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Crime data gathered across the country indicate that one in three teens have experienced dating violence. This includes sexual and physical assaults, stalking and kidnapping.

There is apparently little difference across racial, economic or geographical lines. The breakdown in children learning values for respecting others, accepting limits and not using force to get what you want is missing. The attitude of these teens is an extension of what we know about younger children who engage in bullying.

There is an obvious fear this emerging horror puts into the minds of parents. For teenagers this alarming stress, on top of all their other stresses can be overwhelming. It becomes a mental health issue when the person exhibits signs of excessive stress. We have provided a list of the stress reactions that should signal the involvement of a mental health specialist. Please be aware that simply treating the reactions with medications or behavior change will not resolve the fear issues.

STRESS REACTIONS:

     Physical

  • Headaches/Migraines
  • Sleep problems
  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent stomach upset
  • Stopped menstruation cycle
  • Increased allergy reactions
  • Frequent nightmares
  • Random pains
  • More clumsy than usual
  • High blood pressure

Emotional/Psychological

  • Excessive worry
  • Easily tearful or crying more than usual
  • More defiant
  • Obsessive thinking
  • Memory loss
  • Absentmindedness
  • Easily frustrated
  • Refusal to go to school
  • Quickly overwhelmed
  • More withdrawn

Teens being victimized will present several of these stress signals, not just one. Any combination is possible. They will often feel guilty, as if somehow, they are at fault. They may hold back from telling you because they don't want to trouble you, or because they are afraid of how you might react. If you are concerned about how to proceed, or if you know what has happened and want help for you child, please call us. All of our work is confidential and designed to support our clients and their families.