LISBON - Last week we began a discussion about the rules of cyber dating. The first rule: Teens should not cyber date. It just isn't safe because, unfortunately, people lie to manipulate and control others.
Parents everywhere know that their children don't share everything with them. There have been some studies conducted advising that most parents do not know that one in four teens text between midnight and 5 a.m., as many as 30 messages an hour. Apparently the parenting rule that many of us grew up with-no phone calls after 9 p.m., no longer applies in many homes with teenagers.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline and Liz Clayborne, Inc., partnered to create the National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline and a website known as www.loveisrespect.org.
The study conducted for Clayborne, Teen Research Unlimited, discovered that 71 percent of 13-18-year-olds surveyed said a boyfriend or girlfriend was spreading rumors about them on cell phones and social media sites.
Also, 68 percent of teen partners or former partners shared private or embarrassing pictures or videos of them without permission. The intent was to get the ex to come back to them or to control their victim.
In a report provided to the Tri-County Family Violence Prevention Coalition by the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (CAEPV), a study released by the Urban Institute "illustrates the extent of the problem and the significance of the connection between cyber-embarrassment and other types of dating violence, such as psychological and physical abuse and sexual coercion."
Mobile phones and Internet increases exposure to abuses by peers or partners by text messages, e-mails, constant messages and social networking sites, writes Kim Wells of CAEPC. She notes that one in four teens were in current or recent abusive relationships. Females are more likely to be victims, especially of sexual harassment.
Sexual cyber abuse is sending or receiving of sexual or naked photos or messages by cell phone or Internet with the intention of forcing someone to sexual activity. Non-sexual cyber abuse is threats sent by text or email, using a social media account without the owner's permission or messaging so much that the recipient feels unsafe.
Wells writes that cyber dating abuse affects teens psychologically. They may also be battered or raped at the same time. It isn't technology's fault, but the abusers who have come up with new ways to batter-and bully-their victims.
Communication with your teen is vital in this cyber age. They may not feel comfortable telling you when things like this are going on. They need the assurance that they can talk to their parents about anything.
"The best way of recognizing any problems with your child is to communicate with them," advises the Help Hotline Crisis Center's Victims of Crime Newsletter. "Knowing what your child is up to and paying attention to their moods and behavior is essential. A parent can usually tell when something is amiss. If the lines of communication are already open, then exploring what may be wrong will be an easier conversation."
When a parent discovers their child is involved in such a situation, emotions erupt. Containing emotions is important. The teen, already afraid, could feel further threatened. Build your family's support system to cope with such a situation.
Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues. For more information about this topic, contact us at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or firstname.lastname@example.org. FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.