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Letter to the Editor (INH)

To the Editor:

I think that we can all agree that an open-minded conversation is a good way to address issues of concern to us, our families, our neighborhoods, and our country. Some great ideas and plans have come out of simple conversations.

However, when conversations are concerning uncomfortable topics, we sometimes tend to avoid those topics altogether or make light of them.

Unfortunately, that is often the case when talking with teens about dating, sex, consent and abuse. Thus, the theme “Talk About It” for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month this February.

When parents and teens think about dating, we like to think of fun, companionship, movies, skiing and school events, and so it should be.

Do we, however, talk to our teens about the right to be respected in their dating relationship, along with a right to honesty, trust, respected boundaries, privacy, open communications, and the right of consent in a sexual relationship?

The best way to make our teens aware of these healthy relationship components is to display them in our own relationships. We need to keep in mind that if relationship issues are a hard conversation for us as adults, it is the same for our teens, specifically if they are being mistreated by someone they care for. That is a hard pill to swallow!

They need trusted folks in their lives to talk to if there are uncomfortable things happening in their relationship.

The abusive relationship may show up in your teen as a loss of appetite, keeping to themselves, not hanging with friends, declining grades at school, loss of self-esteem, depressive behaviors, and if there is physical abuse, there will be an effort to cover bruises, perhaps with scarves, turtle-neck shirts or increased use of make-up.

If you suspect an abusive partner, watch for that behavior to be controlling, jealous, isolating-keeping partner from friends and family, insulting, dismissive of partner’s feelings, and often an explosive temper.

Sexual abuse occurs when sex happens without given consent, and physical abuse will most likely show up with perhaps hair loss, unexplained bruising and soreness.

The good news is that there are agencies and resources available to help. You can reach the Hands of Hope Resource Center at 320-732-2319, on Facebook or on the web.

There are also some great websites dealing with teen dating violence, and Futures Without Violence have a great understanding of teen dating violence for victims and for parents and support folks.

Be safe and enjoy your healthy dating experiences!

Connie Nelson

Hands of Hope Resource Center



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