by Colby Shipwash
Raising five children is not always easy, especially when it comes to their safety. We can’t keep our kids locked up at home 24/7, and we can’t discourage them from forming relationships outside of the home. Yet, we can teach them skills so that they are cautious and remain safe when encountering other people, especially when they start dating.
I have partnered with loveisrespect to bring some awareness to abuse and how to potentially avoid it or stop it with the help of an iPhone. According to The Hotline, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experience severe physical violence during their lives, and 1 in 3 teens will experience dating abuse. These statistics are not comforting.
Tech & a Go Bag
It’s important for teens to recognize the signs of potential danger when it comes to relationships. They also need to know what to do should they find themselves in an unsafe situation. One thing that can be helpful is to equip our teens, and even our adult children, with a Go Bag.
A Go Bag is a term used to describe a bag that is ready with things one should always have available in case of an emergency. I am not talking about weapons. I am talking about basic tools and survival items to help you get out of a bad situation, and stay safe until you can get help. Things like a change of clothing, a first aid kit, some cash, maybe something to eat, and of course a phone and charger. It also isn’t a bad idea for young people to learn some basic self-defense skills in the event of physical threats.
An iPhone, or other smartphone, can be a great tool to include in a Go Bag, especially with the Emergency SOS feature activated. This is an app that can be used to alert trusted contacts via text message that an emergency call was placed, and to send those contacts updates on the user’s current location. It is very important that the potentially dangerous party not be included in the trusted contacts. Make sure your teens block certain people who may put them in danger.
Another great phone app is the screen record feature. Many phones have the ability to record what’s happening on the screen without the other person knowing. While screen recording isn’t a new concept, Apple has simplified the process for iPhones. One can now more easily record videos of abusive behavior, like harassing text messages or threats made over video calls. Encourage your children to think about their own safety when deciding whether to record an abuser. They should never do anything that will put them in more danger.
While a cell phone is a really great tool, make sure your loved ones also keep contacts and hotline numbers written down somewhere other than on their phone as a backup. It is also a good idea to have 911 at the top of the contacts list on both the phone and the paper list.
When it comes to phone safety, encourage your children to change passwords often, and to update privacy settings on social media. Make sure they block unwanted callers, especially anyone who is harassing via calls or text messages. Enable internet security features, including spyware checkers. If the phone has a GPS tracker app, suggest your teen enable that for when they are going out on date with someone you don’t know.
If your teens have been affected by abuse, you or they can reach an expert advocate 24/7/365 by phone at 1-866-331-9474, by online chat at www.loveisrespect.org or by texting LOVEIS to 22522.
I always like to keep an open and honest dialogue with my children about their relationships, and to teach them what is healthy and what is not okay. They understand that “no” does not mean “maybe,” and they should be empowered to use their voices if something does not feel acceptable. They also know how to use their phones to get help if needed. Support of loved ones is essential when it comes to safety and the emotional component that accompanies any type of domestic abuse.
Colby Shipwash is a parenting and lifestyle blogger from Dallas, TX. Proud parent to five children, Colby runs Days of a Domestic Dad, where he writes about life as a stay-at-home father, his love of cars, and his adventures traveling across the country.