Talking to Teens About Digital Safety

digital-safetyTeens are online a lot these days. Whether they’re updating Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, using Snapchat, or “checking in” with various location tools, technology has become highly integrated into their lives. While we definitely support using technology in healthy, fun, and productive ways, sometimes it can make life difficult or dangerous for teens.

Nothing ever really disappears from the internet – whether it’s a photo, a status update, or a tweet – so it’s important to have regular, open and honest conversations with your kids or students about safe ways to use technology. During teenDVmonth, we want to encourage you to start having these conversations as soon as possible! Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling:

  • Open the conversation by using current examples of how sharing online can quickly escalate out of control. In one brilliant experiment, a teacher received a LOT of attention when she posted a photo of herself online to show her 5th grade students how anything can be widely shared or digitally manipulated on the internet.
  • Talk to your teen about privacy. How does he or she define privacy? What types of things would they like to keep private? Be sure to talk about using apps to “check in” to places online, or tagging their location on Instagram and Facebook, and how that might compromise their safety or their friends’ safety.
  • Create “Digital Safety Guidelines” with your teen. Let them have input, and talk through what they are comfortable sharing online and why. Together, you can learn about privacy settings for social networks and how to use them.
  • Talk to your teen about establishing digital boundaries with their boyfriends or girlfriends. These boundaries might shift and change as the relationship progresses, but it’s important for both partners to continue communicating about what they’re comfortable with. Some good questions to discuss are:

– Is it okay to tag or check in?
– Do we post our relationship status?
– Is it okay to friend or follow my friends?
– When is it okay to text me and what is the expectation for when we return it?
– Is it okay to use each other’s devices?
– Is it okay to post, tweet or comment about our relationship?

  • Go over the signs of digital abuse. Ask if they’ve ever experienced any of these signs, or if they know someone who has. Brainstorm ways to deal with this type of abuse.

The internet isn’t going away any time soon, so it’s unrealistic to expect your teens not to use it. By learning more about how the teenagers in your life are using technology, you can help them determine how best to keep themselves safe and healthy.

If you have any other suggestions for how to talk to teens about staying safe online, please leave them in the comments!


Get Involved: Respect Week 2014 is February 10-14!

At loveisrespect, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, our advocates take calls, chats, and texts from teens who have questions about relationships, and respect is an issue they frequently discuss. In honor of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month (teenDVmonth), we hope that you will start conversations with the teens in your life about what healthy relationships look like. Maybe you got things started this past Tuesday on It’s Time to Talk Day, but if not, you still have time – Respect Week 2014 is just around the corner!

Hosted by loveisrespect’s partner Break the Cycle, Respect Week encourages teens and youth leaders to participate in teenDVmonth. From wearing orange to actively engaging your community, here are just a few ways you can help spread awareness of teen dating violence:

      • Download the Respect Week 2014 Guide, created by loveisrespect’s National Youth Advisory Board, for a comprehensive look at information, ideas, and activities for the week
      • Wear orange and be part of the nationwide orange-out on Tuesday, February 11 to help spread awareness of dating violence. Invite your friends to the Facebook event, post a picture and update your social media using the hashtags #teenDVmonth and #RespectWeek2014
      • On Valentine’s Day, ask students to read the National Respect Announcement across your school’s intercom, to your class, youth group or wherever fits best. You’ll raise awareness of teen dating violence and how to end it. You can also spread the word by joining the Thunderclap and sending out the National Respect Announcement to all your social media networks
      • Host an event where you can educate your family and friends about how dating abuse affects one in three teens
      • Keep talking to the teenagers you know and love about healthy relationships

This year, take part and help everyone learn how to build relationships free from abuse. Keep the conversation going and get ready for Respect Week 2014!


February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

TeenDVMonthAccording to loveisrespect, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, one in three teens in the US is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a partner. While teen dating violence can happen to anyone, the majority of the violence affects young women. Women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence – almost triple the national average.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month (TeenDV Month), a national effort to raise awareness about abuse in teen and 20-something relationships and promote programs that prevent it, and YOU have the power to help! Talk to teachers at your local high school, bring up dating violence at the next school board meeting, and have a conversation with the teens in your life about healthy relationships.

We’ll kick off TeenDVMonth tomorrow, February 4th, with It’s Time to Talk Day. Hosted by Break the Cycle’s Love Is Not Abuse Campaign, It’s Time To Talk Day is an annual awareness day that aims to generate conversations about healthy relationships and prevent teen dating violence and abuse. Learn more and pledge your support on the website!

Another great way to get involved this month is to participate in Respect Week, February 10-14, hosted by the loveisrespect National Youth Advisory Board (NYAB). Check out the loveisrespect website for more information and to download the NYAB’s Respect Week 2014 Guide.

Everyone deserves safe and healthy relationships. Want to know how to help a young person experiencing abuse? Call our advocates today at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233). Also, find us on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated with important resources and information for loved ones who may be experiencing dating violence.

Don’t forget check back with our blog throughout February for more on TeenDVMonth!

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Celebrate Healthy Relationships This Valentine’s Day

On the surface, the focus of Valentine’s Day seems to be teddy bears and gifts but the deeper meaning of the day lies in relationships — the one you have with yourself and those you have with others. Today, take time to reflect on the different people in your life and your relationships with them. Are you being an active participant in all of your relationships? A good friend, parent or partner?

This Valentine’s Day, celebrate the healthy relationships in your life by realizing what makes them great and by thinking of ways you could make them even better. Here are some ideas for how to deepen the bonds you share with your loved ones.

For your friends:
Are your friendships two-sided, with each of you giving the other support? Take time today to make sure you’re being the best friend you can be. Be there for your buddies in a way that’s focused on them. Practice “active listening”  by using clarifying phrases to make sure you know what they are saying. For example,”What I’m hearing you say is _______. Is that right?”  Use eye contact during a conversation. Don’t assume anything, and don’t spend time planning what you’ll say next instead of listening to what they’re saying now.

For you:
There’s no better time to focus on self-care than this Valentine’s Day. Give yourself the gift of paying a little more attention to #1 today (yes, that’s you!). By working on having a strong, healthy relationship with yourself, you’ll be better equipped to thrive in healthy relationships with friends and loved ones.

If you are a survivor of an abusive relationship and today is a difficult time for you, make sure to focus on your well-being and try to steer clear of things that will remind you of an ex, like the place you always went to dinner together, or a song you both loved.  If you’re worried that you might be tempted to your ex, schedule activities with friends to keep you busy and have people you can call. Don’t forget that we’re available at The Hotline, toll free, and 24/7. Call us at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233).

For your community:
February is a great time to give back in some way to your community, because it’s National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. One of the best ways to get the word out is to talk to the schools in your community — attend a PTA meeting and bring handouts for example. Download the teenDVmonth Toolkit which includes pledges, “how to” guides, prep manuals and more.

For your children:
In fostering a healthy relationship with your children, communication and dialogue are key. Take today to talk about healthy dating with your children and the young people in your life. Explain to them that in a healthy relationship, both partners feel free to be themselves and set the boundaries they want. Partners should respect these boundaries and be supportive of each others differences. Stress the importance of communication — and let it begin with this conversation between the two of you. If they want to text or talk on the phone to an advocate their own age, they can call the National Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 or text “loveis” to 77054.

For your partner:
Healthy relationships are all about respecting and honoring boundaries, but when you’re in a close relationship with someone this might sometimes fall by the wayside. Today, make a special effort to honor your partner’s boundaries, big or small. Does it drive them crazy when you leave the dishes in the sink instead of putting them in the dishwasher? Are they bothered when you show up late to places? Make that extra little effort to try respect their needs, even if it’s as simple as washing dishes and setting your watch back a few minutes. Honoring your partner’s boundaries now will prevent the little things from turning into bigger things later on — it will be a gift for both of you!

What are some ways you plan on celebrating the relationships in your life?

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

On January 31st, just over a week after he had been officially inducted into office for a second term, President Barack Obama made a direct address, endorsing February as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

In his official address, Obama declared: “This month, we stand with those who have known the pain and isolation of an abusive relationship, and we recommit to ending the cycle of violence that affects too many of our sons and daughters.”

President Obama and his administration continue to make preventing abuse a priority, through initiatives such as Vice President Joe Biden’s 1 is 2 many, committing to reduce violence against young women.

According to the organization Loveisrespect, one in three teens in the US is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a partner. While teen dating violence can happen to anyone, the majority of the violence affects young women. Women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence- this is almost triple the national average.

As encouraged by President Obama, let February be a month for taking a stand against dating violence in whatever way you can. Talk to teachers at your local high school, bring up dating violence at the next school board meeting, and have a conversation with the teens in your life about healthy relationships. A great resource to share with them is the website loveisrespect, which has safety planning tips, relevant blog posts and more.

Want to know how to help a teen loved one experiencing abuse? Call our advocates today at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233). Also, stay tuned into our blog for upcoming posts with resources and ways to empower your teen if they are experiencing dating violence.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

What Makes Teen Dating Abuse Unique

Teen dating abuse can be as serious and scary as violence within an adult relationship. The abuse faced by teens can manifest itself in a variety of forms including physical, verbal and digital. We wanted to shed a light on dating abuse as February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

There are a lot of similarities between teen dating abuse and domestic violence, but there are also quite a few differences.

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what a teen relationship is. Teens often use unique language to define their own relationships, using terms like talking, hanging out, hooking up or friends with benefits. These teen relationships can be extremely casual or extremely serious, and abuse can happen in any of these situations.

Unfortunately because many teens identify their relationships as being casual, they don’t realize that they can experience dating abuse. If they do realize, they often struggle with reaching out and telling someone about their abuse.

There is often a communication disconnect between teens and their parents or other adults. Teens may feel reluctant about reaching out to adults because of this lack of trust or comfort.  A teen’s first confidant will more than likely be a friend.

Teens that are new to dating may have unrealistic or unhealthy expectations. If teens don’t feel that they have strong models of healthy relationships to look up to, they may look to popular culture to learn what a relationship should look like. This can be problematic with the promotion of unhealthy relationships like those seen on TV or on the radio. These examples of relationships can be negative and often romanticize or fail to condemn unhealthy behaviors. This affects not only how teens perceive their own relationships, but also the type of advice that they give to their friends.

It’s difficult for teens to get away from their abusive partners. Teens may not drive, may not have a vehicle or may be limited in where they are allowed to drive. They often attend the same school as their abuser, so it’s difficult to avoid seeing their partner daily. They may share a friend group with their abuser, so it’s hard for them to know who they can trust.

Because of these difficulties, teens sometimes feel like it’s impossible to end the relationship or to get away from their abuser. They may not seek resources from their school or community for protection.

If you know a young adult who is in an unhealthy relationship, or would like to learn more about dating abuse, please visit The site features an online chat run by peer advocates from the National Dating Abuse Helpline, and can provide intervention via phone at 1-877-331-9474 or through text at 77054 or through their online chat.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

logo-01February has been designated as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. In the past Congress had designated the first full week of February as a prevention week and this is the first year that a whole month is dedicated to prevention efforts. loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline has put together a comprehensive resources page specially created for this month’s awareness efforts. Please click here for more information and for ways you could do your part this month.

announcement Launches Love Mashup To Kickoff National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Week Feb. 2-6

Austin, Texas—Feb. 2, 2009 — Today the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline (NDAH) launched the new online application Love Mashup! The LOVE message moviemaker from  Users can make quick movies using art and sound elements from the LOVE campaign to spread the message of healthy dating. Love Mashup allows teens to make their own movies, from five seconds up to 30 seconds, by dragging and dropping sound and art clips from The Love Library to send movies to their friends, their Valentine, or anyone for any occasion. The Avon Foundation is funding the social networking interactive campaign through the m.powerment by mark campaign, dedicated to empowering young women and preventing the cycle of dating abuse and partner abuse. “Dating abuse is something that is not normally talked about or discussed,” said Lauren Conrad, Honorary Co-Chair of the mark girl’s m.powerment campaign. “Love Mashup is a great tool that gives a voice to young women who want to express their feelings and concerns to their friends about recognizing the signs of abuse and how to prevent it before it begins.”

The first week of February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week to raise awareness and increase education of the alarming and often under-reported crime of teen dating violence. “It is critical to raise awareness about teen dating violence, and to let teens know the red flags of an unhealthy relationship, as well as what healthy relationships should be,” said Sheryl Cates, CEO of the NTDAH. “Hitting, slapping, pushing and controlling behavior, like repeated text messages and telling you what to wear and who to hang out with are signs of danger in a relationship.” This week also marks the second anniversary of loveisrespect, the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline. The Helpline and website are designed for teens so they can speak or chat with a peer or adult about their fears and get immediate assistance.

About Loveisrespect
NDVH launched loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline in 2007, to serve as a source of support and resources for teens involved in dating abuse relationships, their peers, parents, teachers, and friends. The Helpline, a project to of the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH)  offers new and innovative services to teens across the country who are experiencing dating abuse and those who are looking to engage in healthy relationships by utilizing technologies that teens use most often: the telephone, web, and chat. Young men and women can anonymously contact trained peer-to-peer advocates by telephone, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. at 1-866-331-9474 or  HYPERLINK “” to chat (IM style) .

For Immediate Release
Retha Lindsey Fielding, APR
(512) 794-1133 Office
(512) 492-2405 Cell