Over the past few years, many of you do a really good job as educators and law enforcement identifying the signs of domestic abuse in children. You know what to do when you suspect it is happening; who to call; and actions to take. When it comes to teens abusing teens, the knowledge just isn’t there for many educators and law enforcement. The training has not been as readily available.
For some, it seems easier to come to the defense of a child when an adult is abusing them. You see the child as more of a victim, especially knowing the “power” component of children being taught to respect their elders, parents, relatives. Many adults use that power to control children.
When it comes to teen violence, it’s trickier. The perpetrators are their peers. People write off inappropriate comments by thinking, “That just part of being a teenager” or “Kids will be kids.” Some adults are intimidated by their own ignorance. You may not know the current language teenagers are using and so you feel out of touch. Instead of embarrassing yourself when intervening, you simply avoid the potential conflict. You do nothing.
Plus, we think as teenagers, they would speak out if someone their own age was making them feel uncomfortable or was hurting them. Reality is the direct opposite. Approval and being “part of the crowd” puts extreme pressure on teenagers NOT to speak out, even when they know something is not right. You don’t want to be the kid who ratted on someone.
What are the signs? Here are some starting points for teenagers (and even pre-teens) to look out for:
- Extreme jealousy
- Controlling behavior
- Quick involvement
- Unpredictable mood swings
- Alcohol and drug use
- Explosive anger
- Isolates you from friends and family
- Uses force during an argument
- Shows hypersensitivity
- Believes in rigid sex roles
- Blames others for his problems or feelings
- Cruel to animals and children
- Verbally abusive
- Abused former partners
- Threatens violence
The above 15 points are from Michelle Woods and her team at MayDay Inc. Michelle also states that as an educator and law enforcement, you should be on the lookout for these signs:
- Physical signs of injury
- Truancy, dropping out of school
- Failing grades
- Changes in mood or personality
- Use of drugs or alcohol
- Emotional outbursts
Bottom line, we need to teach our teens to choose better relationships and partners. Re-enforce the qualities of a loving and fair partner. As educators, law enforcements and most of all parents, we are responsible for teaching teens the warning signs.
Here is a recent article where these tips were provided by Michelle Woods and MayDay Inc:
Baker City Herald – MayDay Helps Teens Avoid Violence