Intrusive behavior like 24/7, high-frequency texting can be one of the warning signs, but the underlying issue is control. The New York Times cites a study last July in the Archives of Pedatrics and Adolescent Medicine, which found that "more than one-third of the 920 students questioned were victims of emotional and physical abuse by romantic partners before they started college." It seems to me one of the most important things to tell our kids is that – no matter how flattering possessiveness, jealousy, and constant attention may feel – too often these behaviors are much more about control than love. Not every household has or can enforce rules about when cellphones, laptops, and connected game consoles are turned off, but such rules can not only help regulate usage; they can serve as back-up when a teen needs a reason to ask for some space. I hope it never gets this far for anyone reading this, but here are some signs of dating abuse in the Times article: Victims "are more likely to engage in binge drinking, suicide attempts, physical fights and sexual activity. And the rates of drug, alcohol and tobacco use are more than twice as high in abused girls as in other girls the same age." See also "How social influencing works."
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