Crucial conversations with teens: talking about healthy relationships

Written By: The Women’s Center staff

February 24, 2021

Talking with your teen about consent and boundaries is the best prevention against dating violence. And these conversations are critical – 1 in 3 girls in the US is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner, and 1 in 10 high school students have been purposefully hit, slapped, or physically hurt by someone they were dating.

Fewer than 1/3 of teens will ever tell their parents. Starting these conversations early are key to effective prevention and intervention.

But how do you start that conversation? Here a few sample questions:

  • Are your friends starting to date? What would you want in a relationship?
  • Has anyone (teachers, counselors, etc.) talked to you about what healthy dating relationships look like?
  • Do you see relationships that make you uncomfortable? Or, see behavior that you don’t like/ agree with?
  • What would you do if you thought a friend was in an abusive(or unhealthy) relationship?
  • Do you know of any people or resources you feel comfortable going to if you or a friend was in that situation?

Preparing for the conversation

To feel prepared for the conversation – whether it’s with a younger friend, a niece or nephew, or your own child – think of examples of healthy and unhealthy behaviors in relationships, using TV shows or movies to help illustrate those behaviors. Remember to keep it low key, don’t push, and be nonjudgmental to build greater trust.

Creating Opportunity for Non-Violent Outcomes

The Women’s Center launched an Instagram account specifically for teens. CONVO – which stands for Creating Opportunity for Non-Violent Outcomes – is a page designed to make violence prevention engaging and accessible. Encourage the teens in your life to follow us on Instagram (@twc_convo) and join the conversation! 

We also created a video for teens to learn about what consent is and what it isn’t. Watch Consentaur: The No-Nonsense Sex Crime Stopper.

Additional resources

The website LoveisRespect.org has helpful references for adults wanting ideas and support before talking to teens, as well as for teens looking for information and resources about relationships. Here are a few quick links to get started:

Our Youth Advocates are always available to help any teens that have experienced dating violence, and our Violence Prevention Advocate is active in area classrooms to help ensure young people know about consent, boundaries, and healthy relationships.

If you have questions or would like help, call our 24-Hour Hotline at 262.542.3828. To request a presentation with our Violence Prevention Advocate at your school or organization, call 262.547.4600 or complete this form.