Teen Dating Violence: Texting and Sexting

LoveisRespectFebruary is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Prevention Month.

Be an educated parent and a smart teenager.

Next to talking one-on-one, texting is currently one of the most instant forms of communication. While texting might be the perfect platform to say a quick “hi,” there are some things to watch out for in a textual relationship with your partner.

Texting Too Much

If your partner texts too much, it’s not only irritating, but unnecessary. Keeping in touch with your significant other throughout the day can be thoughtful, but constant contact is probably over-doing it. Consider talking to your partner about giving you a little bit of space. Remember, if they’re using texting messaging to monitor everywhere you go, that is a warning sign of abuse.


Does your partner ask for inappropriate pictures of you? Or send them to you? Even if you trust that your partner will be the only one to ever see the pictures, you can never guarantee that they won’t end up on someone else’s phone or online. Seriously consider playing it safe and making a policy of not sending and instantly deleting inappropriate photos. The same goes for webcams and instant messaging, too. Remember you never have to do anything you aren’t comfortable with, no matter how much your partner pressures you.

Sexting can also have legal consequences. Any nude photos or video of someone under 18 could be considered child pornography, which is always illegal. Even if whoever sent the image did so willingly, the recipient can still get in a lot of trouble.

Reading Someone Else’s Texts

Does your partner ask to read your texts? Or read them behind your back? Healthy relationships are built on trust, not jealousy. You have the right to privacy and the ability to talk to whomever you like. You may want to explain to your partner that you have nothing to hide, but don’t like them going through your phone or deciding who your friends are. If your partner refuses to change, you could be in an unhealthy relationship. Take our quiz to find out if there are other warning signs in your relationships.

Threats over Text

Threats over text should be taken seriously — try not to write them off as angry venting. Keep track of threatening texts and think about talking to someone you trust about what is happening. Being in a violent relationship is dangerous — don’t going through it alone.

What Can I Do?

Whether you feel like your partner is already using their cell phone in an abusive way or you’re trying to prevent it, here are tips to keep you safe and healthy:

  • Remember, it’s ok to turn off your phone. Just be sure your parent or guardian knows how to contact you in an emergency.
  • Don’t answer calls from unknown or blocked numbers. Your abuser can easily call you from another line if they suspect you are avoiding them.
  • Don’t respond to hostile, harassing, abusive or inappropriate texts or messages. Responding can encourage the person who sent the message and won’t get them to stop. Your messages might also get you in trouble and make it harder to get a restraining order or file a criminal report.
  • Save or document troublesome texts as you may need them later for evidence in case you file a criminal report or ask for a restraining order.
  • Many phone companies can block up to ten numbers from texting or calling you. Contact your phone company or check their website to see if you can do this on your phone.
  • If you are in or coming out of a dangerous relationship, avoid using any form of technology to contact your abuser. It can be dangerous and may be used against you in the future.
  • It may seem extreme, but if the abuse and harassment don’t stop, changing your phone number may be your best option.

If you are feeling threatened or suffocated by your partner’s constant calls or texts, it may be a sign that you are in an unhealthy and potentially abusive relationship. When your partner says or does things that make you afraid, lowers your self-esteem or manipulates you, it is called verbal or emotional abuse. You have the right to be in a safe and healthy relationship free from all types of abuse.

Source:  Love is Respect


Sexual Predators: 10 Ways Predators Seek Kids Online

Teens are just as vulnerable as young children.

Teens are just as vulnerable as young children.

With many parents online shopping it also means more adults with not the same motives will be online also.  Do your kids practice online safety measures?

Children today are growing up with the Internet as a regular part of life, yet the World-Wide-Web was fairly new when their parents were young. Along with all the fun and informative things available to children online, a serious danger also lurks. Internet predators like to use the anonymity of the Internet, and are constantly on the lookout for innocent victims.

It’s important for parents to be aware of the ways sexual predators troll for kids online.

Here are 10 things to watch out for to keep your kids safe on the Internet.

  1. Online games – One place Internet predators connect with kids is online games. They will choose games that are popular with the age group they prefer and pose as other kids to foster a friendship with children. Predators will watch for gamer names that indicate the gender, location or other information that is useful to them.
  2. Chat rooms – Sexual predators will pose as kids in chat rooms that are popular with children. This is an easy way for them to garner information and target unsuspecting youngsters. Once they gain a child’s trust, they may try setting up a meeting in person.
  3. Facebook – Parents need to be very careful about whether or not they allow their children to have their own personal Facebook accounts. This is prime hunting grounds for Internet stalkers who target kids. It’s very easy for them to set up fake Facebook pages and “friend” teens and preteens.
  4. Twitter – Social media is a great way for pedophiles to connect with their victims, and Twitter is no exception. Many young people use tweeting as their primary form of communication, and predators know this and go where the kids are.
  5. Websites for kids – Parents may think websites like Disney and PBS Kids are safe for their children to frequent, but predators like to frequent them too. What better place is there to find lonely kids who want to chat?
  6. Instant messaging – Since emails will linger in an account until they’re deleted, Internet predators prefer to use instant messaging that disappears once the window is closed. This makes it harder for parents to monitor who’s talking to their kids and what they’re saying.
  7. MySpace – Some consider MySpace one of the worst sites for online predators who want to connect with children. The online surveys are fun to fill out, but they also provide lots of information that can be used to gain trust with unsuspecting youngsters.
  8. Pictures – Parents need to educate their children on how pictures posted online can be used by sexual predators. It helps them to identify kids who fit their personal preferences, and any picture posted online can be used and manipulated by anyone. Child pornographers are constantly monitoring the Internet for potentially suggestive photos of children.
  9. Target the vulnerable – Internet predators are constantly on the lookout for vulnerable children that they can exploit. Kids that are lonely, unhappy, who are having difficulty with school, or who have poor relationships with their parents are easy targets. They also like kids who are willing to keep secrets from their parents or other authorities.
  10. Use coded language – The shortcut language that kids use for texting makes it harder for parents to readily understand what they’re saying. Just glancing over their child’s shoulder, a text message can look like gobbledygook, so parents need to learn this coded language to help keep their kids safe. You better believe the Internet predators know exactly what texting shortcuts mean and how to use it to gain a child’s trust.

Being aware of the inherit risks that the Internet poses to innocent children is the first step parents who want to keep their children safe need to take. Parents need to educate themselves and their children about the dangers of Internet predators as they teach them how to use the Web.

Establish rules and guidelines for computer and cell phone use, and keep the computer in a common area easily observable by parents and siblings. Use online tools for privacy settings and set up parental alerts. Parental involvement is the key to protecting your children from online sexual predators.

Source: Nanny News Network

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Teen Summer Romance: Teens Dating in Todays Tech Age

Teen dating and teen romance is part of our kids growing up.

Now this part of life is compounded with the use of the digital world.

Skout, a mobile flirting application that uses GPS technology has been linked to three instances of sexual assault in recent weeks. In response, the under-18 portion of the community has been shut down as its organizers work to develop better safeguards.

The mobile dating site, which was originally created for adults, uses GPS technology that allows users to see nearby singles. In a safety precaution, the app does not reveal street addresses.

However, if you were at your neighborhood grocery store, you would be able to check your phone to see if another single was in the area, check the profile and then send an IM or text if you were interested in meeting that person.

In the teen version of Skout, the app pinpointed other users’ locations within a half-mile radius, and though it was supposed to be a safeguard, it proved to be the perfect tool for predators to scout their victims. In all three instances, adults took advantage of underage teens; but GPS is also a tool that can be used in teenaged dating abuse.

A technologically savvy teen can use GPS to monitor a dating partner, either through cell phones or other devices. Often, GPS isn’t needed to monitor a teenager’s location.

With the ability to update a Facebook status, Tweet or even “Check-in” via Facebook, teenagers are revealing their locations all the time.

In the past, teen dating abuse was more easily identified. Ten years ago, when landlines were the norm and phone bills had limited minutes, abusive behavior like excessive phone calls would have been easy to identify. Today, teens can put their cell phones on silent and receive unlimited texts, masking abusive behavior from parents.

“I call it an electronic leash,” said psychotherapist Dr. Jill Murray in an interview with ABC News. “I’ve had girls come into my office with cell phone bills showing 9,000 text messages and calls in a month. This is all hours of the day and night. And it’s threatening.’Hi. How are you? Where are you? Who are you with? Who are you talking to?’” Considering a teen’s constant attachment to his or her cell phone, the potential control for the abuser is virtually unlimited.

In addition to the private world of text messaging, the world of social media offers abusive teens a public platform to humiliate and degrade their partners.

Teens can use Facebook or Twitter to insult their partners or reveal embarrassing, false or intimate information about the victim. Abusive partners can even use this potential public humiliation as a form of blackmail.

You might be surprised to learn just how common it is for teens to develop an abusive relationship. The National Center for Victims of Crime cites that over 40 percent of both genders report having been involved in some form of dating violence at least once during high school.

If you recognize that your teen is in an abusive relationship, your first reaction may be to begin limiting freedoms such as Internet and cell phone use, but often teens in an abusive relationship don’t confide in their parents for fear of such restrictions.

Remember, the victim in an abusive relationship is often made to feel as though he or she has done something wrong. A reaction that could be seen as a “punishment” could only increase feelings of low self-esteem and could further alienate your teen from you and other positive support groups – while the abuser will see the opportunity to slip into the position of the ally.

Instead of revoking mobile access, you could recommend this app for your teen. It was made for college students, as a peer-based support system to help escape social situations, but it can easily apply to the teen dating world. In this app, GPS is used to empower the victim, proving that technology can be a helpful tool in avoiding abuse.

The app is called “Circle of 6” and it allows users to easily contact 6 people with discreet SOS messages:

“Come and get me. I need help getting home safely. My GPS coordinates are…” and “Call and pretend you need me. I need an interruption.”

If you notice that your teen’s partner is becoming too controlling, a good strategy is to engage in a project or take more trips together. You can also offer to facilitate outings for your teen and his or her friends. You can also go on trips and invite your teen and his or her significant other. The goal is to offer your teen examples of healthy, positive relationships that will contrast the negative emotions spurred by the abusive one.

Contributor: Amelia Wood is a blogger and freelance writer who often writes to explain medical billing and coding online. She welcomes your questions and comments at amelia1612@gmail.com.

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