February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. One issue that greatly affects teens today is digital abuse. Digital abuse is the use of technology, such as email, social networking, and texting, to bully, harass, stalk, or intimidate the recipient. A study by the Associated Press and MTV found that 50 percent of 14-to-24-year-olds have experienced some type of digital abuse.
Many of these teens allow the abuse of themselves, or of their friends, because they believe it is normal. They don’t really understand what digital abuse is and many parents do not realize that it is occurring.
Warning Signs of Digital Abuse:
- Your partner tells you who you can or can’t be friends with on social networking sites.
- Your partner sends you harassing, negative, insulting, or threatening online messages.
- Your partner uses social networking sites to keep constant tabs on you.
- Your partner puts you down in their status updates.
- Your partner sends you unwanted, explicit pictures or videos, and demands you send pictures and/or video of you in return.
- Your partner steals or demands your passwords for your online accounts.
- Your partner constantly texts you and make you feel threatened if you are not attached to your phone to respond.
- Your partner searches through your phone frequently, checking your photos, texts, incoming and outgoing calls.
Some Advice for Parents:
Start a discussion and let your teen know you’re always there for them. Help them set boundaries. Check up on them and keep an eye on their social media postings. Have a zero-tolerance policy on sexting, cybering, and explicit videos. Teach them to be upstanders (someone who sticks up for others), not bystanders. Talk about the pressure to broadcast and about what’s private. Perhaps the best advice is to start talking about what constitutes a healthy, respectful relationship as early as possible.
Did You Know?
- 30% of teens ages 14-24 have sent or received nude pictures on their phone or online.
- 69% said that digital abuse is a serious problem for people within their age group.
- Electronic monitoring of some kind is used in 1-in-13 victims.
- 22% feel that their partner checks up on them too often.
- 74% of boys and 66% of girls say they have not had a conversation with their parents in the past about dating abuse.
- 58% of parents can not correctly identify all signs of abuse.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship please call the Hubbard House 24-Hour Domestic Violence Hotline at (904) 354-3114 or (800) 500-1119. Hubbard House can help.
ABOUT HUBBARD HOUSE: Founded as the first domestic violence shelter in Florida in 1976, Hubbard House is a certified, comprehensive domestic violence center providing programs and services to more than 6,000 women, children, and men annually in Duval and Baker counties. While Hubbard House is most known for its emergency shelter, the agency also provides extensive adult and youth outreach services, school-based education, therapeutic childcare, batterers’ intervention programs, court advocacy and volunteer and community education opportunities. Visit http://www.hubbardhouse.org to learn more.
By: Katie Swanson