Deloris Rome Hudson’s experience is even more haunting: She remembers a popular girl who was dominated by her drop-out boyfriend, and then strangled.
Of course, Rome Hudson mourns the victim, but she also thinks: “Here’s this guy, and I don’t know what would have helped him, but that’s one I wish I would have gotten to…” But most teen relationships are not violent.
In fact, the threat of outing a partner can be a controlling tactic to trap a victim.
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“The most frequent chat I get is somebody unsure about whether their relationship is unhealthy,” says Gindele.
If you have to ask the question…the answer is likely yes, but Gindele puts it this way: “Listen to your gut.” The problem is, she says, “Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of education for young people on what a healthy relationship looks like.
Many more teens are in relationships that, if not exactly like Rihanna and Chris Brown, are nonetheless unequal and unhealthy with one partner dominating the other. Let me see your phone,” mimics Maryland high school teacher Erika Chavarria. What contemporary media presents to teens and tweens as “love” today is actually about sex and control.
This adds up to 1.5 million high school students last year alone.
Today’s educators need to be alert to the signs of teen dating abuse. Learning how to develop and maintain positive relationships is part of the social and emotional learning that keeps us all safe and happy—and leads to academic success.