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Child Abuse Prevention month includes teen issues

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April is Child Abuse Prevention month and Sexual Assault Awareness month. One of the many areas of abuse includes teen dating violence. The Safe House in Ann Arbor provides information and advocacy on this and many other issues pertaining to abuse.

Domestic violence is not contained, but rather, crosses all barriers regardless of race or economic status. However, the vast majority of victims are women and children. With this in mind, it is crucial that we provide coping tools for teen girls so they can stand strong and confident and not fall victim to abuse.

Advice for Teen Girls

Never sell yourself short, you are worthy of respect (this cannot be emphasized enough). It doesn't matter where you come from or what you've done, nobody deserves to be treated with violence.

Abuse may start-out very subtle until you find yourself wondering if you should provide sex so that "he won't leave me." Be careful of words such as: "I can't help it; I just love you so much." The fact is, they CAN help it and should never put you in a situation where you feel confused or cornered.

At other times, there is no warning and you may find yourself fighting-off an attacker instead of the person you thought was a friend.

You cannot "change" someone else! Abuse NEVER gets better and ALWAYS progresses.

Avoid situations where you are alone with a date. Instead, plan to be with others in public areas. This includes having someone pick you up and take you home. There should always be others in the car. Don't feel embarrassed to have your parents or guardians drive you.

If you live in an abusive home, you may feel lonely and vulnerable. This can make you a target for an abusive mind. Instead of looking for love in all the wrong places, seek out information and counseling. Local abuse shelters often have Hotlines you can call to get advice.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE 1-800-650-6522

All teen girls should learn coping tools for dealing with everyday situations. These tools can help you spot red flags and how to deal with them in a healthy and appropriate manner:http://www.acadv.org/dating.html

If you are being stalked, call the police immediately!

Advice for Parents

Create a safe and comfortable environment where teens feel safe to come to you with anything including very sensitive information. If you react strongly, they will shut-down and not confide in you.

Be available! It's not always easy to get all of your children to and from their various activities, but make a dating situation a priority and be available to do the driving.

Always insist on meeting their friends and better yet, their friend's parents.

Get as much helpful information as you can on this subject:

http://www.acadv.org/dating.html

Advice for Schools

Public schools should seek-out programs available that will present talks and information to young men and women separately. Start with your local abuse shelter. Most counties have one.http://www.ncadv.org/

The Power and Control Wheel:

http://www.domesticviolence.org/violence-wheel/

The Safe House:

http://www.safehousecenter.org/

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