If parents are skeptical about the reality of teen dating abuse, they can get a taste of what many teens are experiencing with Liz Claiborne Inc’s Love Is Not Abuse iPhone app. According to the official press release, “parents in the U.S. are substantially less likely to talk with their adolescent children about the dangers of dating abuse than sex, drugs or alcohol,” yet “as many as 10 percent of U.S. high school students report having been hit, slapped or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year.” Clearly this is a critical issue parents are not discussing with their teens, a mistake the organization attributes to parents’ lack of information.
In an effort to educate parents so they can better protect their teens, the Love Is Not Abuse app provides comprehensive resources on teen dating abuse, including warning signs, abusive behaviors, tips on how to talk to their teens, where to go for help, and more.
The most interesting and, perhaps, most educational part of the app, however, is a simulator that sends the parents’ phone increasingly frequent and threatening messages to show parents exactly what it feels like to experience this kind of abuse. The idea is that having a firsthand experience of dating abuse will arm parents with the tools to recognize if their teen is being abused.
For parents who take the time to download and use the app, it forces them to confront the unfortunate truth that, with the explosive popularity of social media sites and smartphones, people have found more sophisticated ways to manipulate, control, and/or abuse others. The days of abuse consisting of only verbal threats and physical violence are over. Nowadays, teens are facing abusive behaviors through text messages, wall posts, private messaging, and so much more.
Looking back at my own youth, I certainly don’t envy the new challenges parents are facing today. While teen dating abuse certainly existed when I was a teenager, it was definitely more difficult to hide because most teens didn’t have a cell phone, not all households had the Internet, and Facebook didn’t exist yet. If we needed to get a hold of someone, we’d call from a land line and had to leave messages with actual people — there was no private messaging at the time unless you passed notes in the hallway. Nowadays, teens have a plethora of resources right at their fingertips that are far more difficult for parents to monitor. A frightening reality for today’s parents.
As our culture changes and grows, so will our ways of hurting one another. We’re fortunate there are organizations like Love Is Not Abuse that are continually finding ways to prevent and combat abuse.
Love and Cell Phone Abuse,
The Slasher Chick