LINCOLN, Neb. (KCAU) — The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is encouraging parents to talk to their teenagers about dating violence during the month of February for Teenage Dating Violence Month.

According to DHHS, dating abuse is an issue that impacts teens, but also parents, teachers, friends and the entire community.

“It is vital to communicate and have real conversations with young individuals to promote safe and healthy relationships,” explained Tony Green, Interim Director of the Division of Behavioral Health.

According to the CDC, about 1 in 12 teens experience physical violence in a dating relationship. In addition, about 1 in 12 teenagers report sexual violence during a dating relationship.

This violence has real consequences for teens, the release said. Teens who are in abusive relationships are much more likely to drop out of school. They also have higher rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders and suicide attempts.

It isn’t just about physical violence, the department said; breaking or striking objects in an attempt to scare the victim into submission or making threats, even if they are by text, are also acts of dating violence. Name-calling, stalking, monitoring and tampering with social media accounts can also be dating abuse.

Healthy partnerships, the department said, are about respect, for each other and for boundaries in the relationship. Other signs of a safe relationship include feeling safe and being able to share negative feelings without consequence.

The department recommends that parents have open conversations with their teens about dating violence. One example of a conversation starter is to ask teens to identify an example of a healthy relationship, along with an unhealthy relationship. This can give parents a way to help their teens identify why some relationships are healthy and others are unhealthy.

It can also be helpful to talk to teens about knowing how to stick up for themselves

Where to get help

  • The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline; call, text, or chat 988
  • Faith-based leaders, healthcare professionals, or student health center on campus.
  • Nebraska Family Helpline – Any question, any time. (888) 866-8660
  • Children & Families of Iowa’s Local Crisis Hotline at (515) 243-6147
  • Rural Response Hotline, (800) 464-0258
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (oprime dos para Español) or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
  • National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)