Teaching children for life means a few things. Teaching for life means giving children instruction as well as opportunities to practice behaviors in a lot of different settings so that they are ready to use those behaviors in situations that do not involve you. Teaching for life means taking them out of harm’s way as a victim, perpetrator, or witness to violence. Teaching for life means helping them lead the way to an even less violent world.

A lot of work on the risk for violence has been done at the University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center. They have interviewed children and their parents for years on exposure to violence in homes, schools, and communities. 

Dr. Sherry L. Hamby is researcher affiliated with the Crimes Against Children Research Center and on faculty at Sawnee the University of the South. She spoke with the American Psychological Association about some of the risk factors of teen dating violence as well as resources available to families and friends who are concerned. You can read her interview at this web address      http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2012/02/teen-violence.aspx.

I think one of the most important quotes from her interview is:

“Teen dating violence doesn’t just spring from nowhere. Both teens who use violence and those who are vulnerable to being victimized have typically experienced previous victimizations, harsh parenting and other adversities. Some of the most dangerous youth are those who expect their dates to meet all of their emotional and social needs.”

It is important to realize that not all victims of teen dating violence have been maltreated by a caregiver. Harsh parenting, early and sudden loss of a parent, exposure to sibling violence, community violence, OR abuse and neglect are all sufficient exposure to violence to raise the risk. Everyone has their own story. Still, reducing the chances that a child witnesses, perpetrates, or is the target of violence will reduce their vulnerability to be involved in more violence.

Violence is a public health problem and exposure to violence is associated with serious negative consequences for physical, emotional, and mental health. We need as many resources as possible to reduce intimate partner violence. The Center for Disease Control has published a brief guide to help families, teens, and communities understand and respond to teen dating violence. What is your role?

CDC Teen Dating Violence: http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/TeenDatingViolence2012-a.pdf

Happy Valentines Day! Kelly