With the school year coming to a close young people are already making summer plans.

They will be looking for summer jobs and going to parties. Maybe they will be preparing to move into dorms for college. With all the preparation and plans made are we missing some vital information? How are we preparing these young people to have healthy relationships?
According to Futures Without Violence, 12 to 19 year olds experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault, 18 to 19 year olds experience the highest rates of stalking, and 15.5 million U.S. children live in families in which intimate partner violence occurred at least once in the past year. All of these young people grow up thinking that violence in relationships is normal. We need to start talking about ending this cycle.
In a society where technology is everywhere, how do we protect our young people? Sexting, electronic dating abuse, cyberbullying, and cyberstalking are just some of the problems that teens face. Pressure to be promiscuous and hyper sexualized from movies, songs, and television. Social media makes it so easy for people to “check-up” on each other. It is important to have tough conversations with our young people.
Some ways to start this conversation are to just ask those difficult questions. What do you think a healthy relationship looks like? How do you want someone that you care about to treat you? What is unacceptable behavior from a boyfriend or girlfriend? How do you protect yourself from unwanted sexual contact? If they do not know how to answer the questions that you ask them, be prepared to give some examples of how you would answer.
We need to be teaching that the most important part of relationships is respect. You have to be respectful of the other person and have respect for yourself. Someone who cares about you will not be extremely jealous. They will not be controlling or manipulative. It is important to know that a good healthy relationship is one where you feel safe talking. You need to feel comfortable sharing how you feel and know that it is okay to say no without fear of repercussion.
If you are interested in learning more about healthy and unhealthy relationships feel free to contact Crisis Services of North Alabama at (256)574-5826 or (256)716-1000. You can also send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit our website at www.csna.org.

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