Making the Connection Between Teen Self Esteem and Healthy Dating Relationships

You love me. You love me not.

While most people eventually move past pulling petals to determine the state of their romantic relationship, keen observation of the teenage dating world shows that there are still some serious issues with making healthy dating choices.

The connection between low self esteem and unhealthy (or even abusive) relationships is well-documented by researchers, and with May being National Teen Self Esteem Month, Hubbard House wants to recognize the important role of self esteem in teen dating relationships. 

During this month, parents and guardians and other authority figures are encouraged to act as positive role models, help stop negative self-images, and improve confidence and security among adolescents.

Too often – one in three cases, to be exact – adolescents in dating relationships experience some form of abuse (whether physical, sexual, emotional or verbal), a number far higher than the rates of other forms of youth violence.

This number alone is reason for concern, but it becomes even more alarming when coupled with the fact that only 33 percent of teens involved in those abusive dating relationships ever tell someone, and around eighty one percent of parents report that they either do not believe teen dating violence is an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue.

According to loveisrespect.org, an online resource created to help young people prevent and end unhealthy relationships, healthy dating relationships include the following characteristics:

  • Your partner respects you and your individuality.
  • You are both open and honest.
  • Your partner supports you and your choices even when they disagree with you.
  • Both of you have equal say and respected boundaries.
  • Your partner understands that you need to study or hang out with friends or family.
  • You can communicate your feelings without being afraid of negative consequences.
  • Both of you feel safe being open and honest.

Recognizing the positive characteristics of healthy dating relationships can help teens prevent or end unhealthy dating relationships that could lead to abuse.

Hubbard House developed the Relationship Abuse Prevention program (RAP) as a means to prevent teen dating violence by working with middle and high schools in Duval County. The program offers students dating violence education, provides techniques for healthy, non-violent conflict resolution through communication skills, and emphasizes healthy self esteem to make positive choices. Last year, RAP was presented to 5,624 youth.

RESOURCES

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship please call the Hubbard House 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 www.hubbardhouse.org to learn more.

Source for Statistics: Loveisrespect.org, “Dating Abuse Statistics” http://www.loveisrespect.org/is-this-abuse/dating-violence-statistics

By Erin Ostrowsky

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