Thanks for checking out the April edition of the RespecText newsletter. Our hope is that the information, tips, and resources in this newsletter will help you start conversations with the teens in your life about healthy relationships.
Tools for Teens
On the loveisrespect blog this month, we discussed two topics that many of our callers and chatters have questions about:
We also posted some tips on being an ally to someone who is LGBTQ, which are great for both teens and adults!
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and numerous organizations have been actively involved in raising awareness, providing education, and starting conversations about sexual assault. Sexual assault disproportionately affects women ages 16-24, although men and boys can be victims, too.
To learn more about making your college campus a safer place for all, check out SAFER (Students Active for Ending Rape).
We’ve also been talking about this recent spontaneous awareness campaign on Twitter that sparked dialogue about the myth that what a girl or woman is wearing can contribute to sexual assault. An instance like this can be a great conversation starter about some of the myths your teens have heard – or believe – about sexual assault and abuse. A recent study showed that many girls view sexual violence as “normal.” This reinforces the importance of teaching both young boys and girls about what’s healthy and not healthy in relationships.
We try to encourage parents and educators to meet teens where they are when discussing relationships. This means paying attention to what’s important to THEM, including the trends, music, and other media they consume on a daily basis.
Some great jumping off points are television shows that portray teens and young adults in different relationship situations. Hannah, one of our advocates, is a devoted viewer of MTV’s Teen Mom 2, and she had some excellent observations about this past season. The loveisrespect team liveblogged a particularly explosive episode of MTV’s The Real World, where we discussed various behaviors among the cast members.
The recent spate of athletes charged with domestic violence is another topical avenue for talking about abuse within relationships, how society reacts, and how both people in the relationship are portrayed. This is an especially good entry point for coaches of boys’ teams to discuss cultural notions of masculinity and how these notions might contribute to domestic violence in any relationship. This short video from A Call to Men sums up the issue, and you can find free materials for coaches and others who work with teens from Futures Without Violence.
We know that talking openly – and listening closely – to teens about what they see and experience can lead to insights about the messages they’re receiving about what is acceptable and unacceptable relationship behavior.
The Alaska Network on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault has created an excellent program called Talk Now Talk Often that encourages conversations between parents and teens about healthy relationships. You can download sets of cards for free and get started!
If you or a teen you know has questions about abusive behavior in a relationship, our advocates are here to help, 24/7. Call us at 1-866-331-9474, chat online at www.loveisrespect.org, or text loveis to 22522. All contact is free, anonymous, and confidential.