Is Your Teen Being Abused?
Most parents think their teens would tell them if they were in an abusive relationship.
But they don’t.
Elizabeth FrancoKopec, prevention specialist for Crisis Center of Comal County (CCCC), says she’s learned from working in schools that teens in violent relationships are uncomfortable talking to their parents.
She hopes a free workshop she’s hosting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 11 at the CCCC, 1547 E. Common St., New Braunfels, will give parents/relatives and their teens a safe place to sit down and start an ongoing dialog about teen dating violence.
The workshop is for parents/family members and male and female adolescents ages 13 to 18.
“We wanted to open that door for a safe place that parents and teens can have a conversation that will last long beyond the time they spend with us,” says FrancoKopec, who has a master’s degree in counseling and a master’s degree in public health.
“Sometimes what we find is that when we open up a conversation about consent or boundaries, or something that’s prevention-related, a lot of times we’ll get disclosures.”
Addressing Teen-Dating Violence
This is the first time CCCC’s brought parents and teens together to discuss a problem of increasing national concern.
According to a report by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teen dating violence is widespread, with serious long-term and short-term effects. Many teens do not report it because they are afraid to tell friends and family.
A 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that nearly 12 percent of high school females reported physical violence, and 16 percent reported sexual violence from a dating partner in the 12 months before they were surveyed.
For high school males, more than seven percent reported physical violence and about five percent reported sexual violence.
FrancoKopec says sometimes teens aren’t even aware these relationships are abusive or unhealthy.
Worse, they may not grasp their experience is significant enough to share with an adult. Many are so manipulated by their abusers they do not necessarily understand that their situations are unhealthy.
Despite the statistics, FrancoKopec says she’s optimistic that by uniting teens and parents the CCCC can begin to put a dent in intimate-partner abuse.
“Our ultimate goal is to provide enough prevention and education services that we can create a culture in Comal County that requires little/no intervention services for intimate partner violence,” she says. “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could put an end to the violence before it even happens?”
About CCCC: The Center provides services to women, children and men of all ages. These services include 24-crisis line, shelter, counseling, support groups, legal advocacy, assistance with filing for child support, case-management, victim’s advocacy, transportation, information/referral and community education/prevention. Its 24-hour crisis hotline is 1-800-434-8013