Teen dating abuse and violence is rising. The statistics are higher today than they have ever been, and as a society we are more in denial of the existence and very real danger that it presents.
The truth is that we, as a society, are under a very different pressure than we've known before. As a result, our kids are experiencing stress, developing coping mechanisms, and stepping outside the norm to attempt to alleviate these feelings that they have no idea how to deal with.
What they do know is that they are having feelings that they can't identify (loss, anger, resentment, grief, depression, anxiety), and these feelings are bigger than their ability to deal with them. The emotions are bigger than their current set of tools, and they are expressing their pain through whatever means they can find to alleviate that feeling in the short term with little regard for consequences to relationships, health, or safety. We see a rise in drug and alcohol use/abuse, teen dating violence/abuse, acting out behaviors, disrespect for authority, self-harm, suicidal ideations, attention seeking behaviors, attitudes of entitelement, emergency room visits on the rise for anger outbursts, overdose, anxiety, and runaways.
More and more in our practice we are seeing these behaviors play out with the teens we work with day to day. These are not the behaviors of children from broken homes, lower incomes, or lack of opportunities. These are the straight "A" students, choir, track, soccer, college bound, brilliantly creative kids who simply have no idea what to do with their frustrations, emotions, and feelings.
This is a tough time for parents and teens alike as the parents know its 'normal' to test the boundaries, and teens are at that stage where they are 'almost' an adult and are certain that they can handle their 'own lives."
We can't alleviate normal growing pains throught the tough transition from childhood to adulthood.However, we can insure that they are equipped with the necessary tools to handle these stressors and emotions in a healthy and productive way.
The most important thing that we can do as adults is notice the warning signs, step outside our walls of denial and hopes that these things are only real for other kids, and hear their cries for help. When they are coping and communicating with the only tools they have, they need us to step in and offer safer and healthier alternatives.
The most important people in your lives are each other, but when you need a little help finding your way through it together... we can help.