Time To Talk

If you are anything like me, you were probably more interested in halftime performances and commercials than Super Bowl without my team.  Of the commercials, we thought a Pizza advertisement was the best in our book! However, it wasn’t a spot by Dominos, Papa Johns, or Pizza Hut that captured our attention.  It was the pizza that wasn’t, an order made not to a chain but 911.  The caller desperately orders a pizza from an emergency services operator who amazingly interprets the request and dispatches a police officer.

This isn’t a made up scenario created for the PSA; this call was actually placed last year.  As you sat in silence did your brain flash to a friend or family member that is struggling with a domestic violence situation?  How many of you looked over at the teens or children sitting in the room?  Was the first thought “I hope it goes over the younger ones heads?”  Did the older children look to you and ask: Who was she afraid of? What was going on? Did they not get it? Or did you all sit quietly hoping for the next commercial to come faster?

As parents we all have the dreaded moments when we face our children and have “The Talk”.   As toddlers our message focuses on staying close and not letting go of our hand and not running off.  We try to warn about strangers without terrifying the two-year-old.  Just when you get through that phase, your pediatrician mentions it is time to talk about the differences between good touching and bad touching. Moments when we see understanding of these topics from our children can be awesome (inspiring); but we all wish we could skip the discussion of land mines like death, puberty, bullying, and sex.  Luckily for us, since these topics are so dreaded there, there happens to be plenty of resources at our disposal.  But how many of us stopped during that Pizza commercial and looked at our children and thought it’s time to talk about relationship violence?

  • Roughly 1.5 million high school boys and girls in the US admit to being intentionally hit or physically harmed in the last year by someone they were romantically involved with.
  • Females between the age of 16 and 24 are roughly 3 times more likely than the rest of the population to be abused by an intimate partner.
  • Violent behavior often begins between 6th and 12th grade. 72% of 13 and 14 year olds are “dating”.
  • A mere 1/3 of teens who were involved in an abusive relationship confided in someone about the violence.
  • Teens who have been abused hesitate to seek help because they do not want to expose themselves or are unaware of the laws surrounding domestic violence. [1]

It is time to talk.  We need to sit down with our children and begin a conversation.  It can be as simple as the difference between good touching and bad touching or the not nice to hit talks we give our young children.  Adolescents need to be told those rules don’t go away as we get older.  They are just as important and true for our 40-year-old selves as they are for 14  and 4-year-olds.  Don’t know how to start or bring it up?  Use the commercial.  Ask them if they knew what it was about, what they thought about it, and if they know what relationship violence is?

February is Teen Relationship Violence Awareness Month and there are some great websites with tools for adults to utilize.  Throughout this month we will be doing additional posts to help motivate and support your talks.  It’s time to give our children a future of NO MORE violence and NO MORE Excuses.

Additional Resources

www.breakthecycle.org

www.loveisrespect.org

www.futureswithoutviolence.org

A conversation guide for parents- http://bit.ly/1KouNuE

[1].  11 Facts about Teen Dating Violence.  DoSomething.org. https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-teen-dating-violence.

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