Category Archives: Relationships

Teen Dating Violence: Know the Signs



By Sara Kleine, 17, Contributor


February 13, 2018

Ruby, 17, of Takoma Park, MD thought she was in a healthy relationship with her boyfriend of almost two years. Then, she started to pick up on some bad signs. “He got mad when I hung out with my friends,” she says. “I tried to break up with him a few times, and he threatened to hurt himself if I did.”

Abuse in teen relationships is not often discussed, but it’s more common than many people think. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 9.6 percent of high school students who dated in 2014-2015 were physically abused by a partner, and 10.6 percent were sexually abused by a partner. Emotional (also known as psychological) abuse in teen dating relationships is even more common; some studies show it happening at numbers much higher than those for physical or sexual abuse. The CDC says that teens who experience dating violence—whether it be physical, sexual or psychological—are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety and engage in unhealthy behaviors such as drug abuse. There’s a lot at stake for teen victims of dating abuse, which is why we recognize Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month during the month of February and start important conversations about how to recognize dating violence and get help if you need it.

There are a lot of signs of psychological abuse, but they can be easy to miss. Safevoices.org, a website that supports victims of domestic violence of all kinds, lists jealousy, isolation, possessiveness and threats as some common signs of psychological abuse. Ruby’s boyfriend’s attempts to prevent her from hanging out with friends, along with his threats of self-harm, were warning signs of abuse.

Ruby stresses that it’s good to know these red flags. Communicating with your partner is key. If you suspect that you’re being abused, Ruby advises being honest. “Don’t be afraid to be like, ‘Hey that’s kind of abusive’…because maybe they don’t realize it. You should be open and communicative,” she says. The exception to this advice is if you are in a situation where you don’t feel safe and comfortable enough to confront your partner. In this case, talking to a doctor, school counselor or trusted family member is best. If you’re unsure if your partner’s behavior is abusive, asking close friends what they think can be helpful. They may have a different perspective on your relationship than you do.

After seeking advice from friends, Ruby decided to break up with her boyfriend. Soon after the breakup, he contacted her often and tried to make her feel guilty for leaving. Ruby says that this was hard for her, but she realized that ending her abusive relationship was the healthiest choice in the long run.

Ruby’s story shows how difficult it can be to recognize and then leave an abusive relationship. If you believe that you are in this situation, tell a trusted adult immediately.

You can also get help through these resources: BreaktheCycle.org, LoveIsRespect.org (1-866-331-8453), Safevoices.org and The National Domestic Violence Hotline at TheHotline.org (1-800-799-7233).



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Being Single on Valentine’s Day



By Carley Campbell, 16, Staff Writer


February 8, 2018

Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day (despite it being on my birthday). Typically, when you think of Valentine’s Day, you think about romantic love: couples kissing and giving each other gifts, cheesy romantic comedies on television and of course, Hallmark cards and candy. But I’ve also noticed something a bit weird about the holiday. While it’s supposed to be about celebrating love, it seems to alienate one group of people: singles.

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, singles are often excluded. If you want an example, just go online. There are plenty of memes about being single on Valentine’s Day. It’s kind of ironic that a holiday all about love can create such self-hatred. So, in the spirit of compassion and caring, I want to ask you to love yourself on the holiday. You might be wondering why.

Well, as I get older, I notice more and more people feeling down on Valentine’s Day. Maybe it’s over the lack of gifts or a lack of attention from someone you care about. Either way, it’s hard to see people hurting over a holiday meant to inspire kindness to others. And in order to be kind to others, it helps to be kind to yourself. I know it sounds cheesy, but self-love (and self-confidence) is important. Instead of moping about being single, go hang out with a friend if you don’t want to be alone on Valentine’s Day. Watch TV, go get snacks. This could be a great way to build a close relationship. Valentine’s Day may be on a Wednesday this year, but you can still go out of your way to have fun.

You could also do something for someone else. Support a local charity. Hand out meals in a soup kitchen, write letters to the elderly or give support to someone in need. It’ll help someone else and also help you feel great.

There’s no shortage of things to help you love yourself on Valentine’s Day. Even though I’m not a fan of the commercial side of the day, I want to encourage people to treat themselves kindly. So today, go out and do something to love yourself and others.



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Let’s Talk Month and How It Helped My Relationship



By Isabella Gonzalez, 16, Staff Writer


October 10, 2017

October may be home to Halloween, but it’s also Let’s Talk Month, a month dedicated to open communication between young people and their parents or caregivers. This campaign encourages discussion about dating, sex and relationships. Conversations like these shouldn’t be scary or stressful! It’s important to make sure you’re on the same page to avoid confusion and anxiety. After all, establishing communication is key to strengthening any type of relationship, whether it’s between a parent and teen or two partners. For example, inspired by Let’s Talk Month, my girlfriend and I decided to make an open communication policy!

Before we created the policy, whenever we got into a fight or were feeling nervous, we would just stop talking. We’d become strangers, avoiding eye contact and direct conversation. Everyone (not just us, but also our friends) would feel awkward and uncomfortable. Sure, they would try figuring out what was wrong, but all efforts were futile. Only we could fix our silence. Eventually, we admitted to ourselves that the quiet was harming our relationship and needed to stop.

Because of this, we set up a rule. To start, someone says, “Open communication time?” whether it’s the person who wants to talk or the partner who believes something is up. If the other responds with, “Ding, ding, ding!” both partners know it’s OK to talk about it. Since then, awkward silence hasn’t been a problem. We’re now a communicative couple that isn’t afraid to share anything.

So this October, try to find time between homework and crafting your Halloween costume to set up a communication guide that helps both you and a loved one!



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Four Great Sexual Health Apps



By Gillian Hatcher, 18, Staff Writer


February 14, 2017

We all have our phones on us most of the day, and we all use at least five apps a day, so why not add a few great sexual health apps?

Recently, Answer—the organization that publishes Sex, Etc.—published a report in which they asked teens to use and review apps and other web-based digital tools related to sexual health. The report looks at what is working in the world of sexual health digital tools and recommends how organizations in the field of sexual and reproductive health can do an even better job of using technology to provide us with accurate sexual health info.

Here are four apps that received all-around high praise!

Bedsider’s Birth Control Reminders

This is an app for people like me who always need a reminder to take their birth control. The cool thing about this app is that each day you get to learn a weird fact, get a beautiful quote or some new reading material, all while being reminded about your birth control of choice. Some of my favorites have been a link to a women’s literature list, the quote “There is a moon, that rests in the quiet corners of a lover’s lips” and insight into Cleopatra’s signature lipstick.

Circle of 6

I personally had all of my friends download this app. Circle of 6 allows you to keep in contact with your friends and family anytime: while you’re out and alone, feeling uncomfortable at a party or not feeling safe while on a date, for example. You can send a text to your “circle” with the press of a button, asking them to “Call and pretend you need me. I need an interruption.” You can also easily send texts like “I’m home safe” and “Come and get me. I need help getting home safely” with your location. Circle of 6 makes it that much easier to have the support and help of your family and friends when you need it most.

Eve

Eve is not your normal period tracker app; it’s actually a lot more. Just like other period trackers, there are reminders when your period should start and a log to track all of your symptoms. But it also has a bunch of articles, quizzes and an active community you can participate in. Here you can talk to other people about their periods and share advice and tips to get through your period. It might be weird to call a period tracker app “fun,” but Eve is definitely a fun app to have on your phone.

Planned Parenthood Chat/Text

While Planned Parenthood Chat/Text isn’t an app, it is a great digital tool that you can access on your phone. Go to the Planned Parenthood website and click the “Chat Now” button. Through the chat, you can have your sexual questions answered by a professional. This tool is beyond valuable and something that you should use if you ever have a question about your sexual health and need a quick answer.

I hope that these apps make it onto your phone to stay. Are there other sexual health apps or digital tools that you love? Leave a comment below.



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Planned Parenthood Results in Consent Movies



By Stella Balsamini, 17, Employees Writer


February 29, 2016

Most individuals go on the Internet regularly, and approximately just about every teen has viewed videos on websites like YouTube. Planned Parenthood Federation of The united states, the U.S. non-profit organization that supplies very affordable reproductive health care and education and learning to everyone who requirements it, has launched a movie collection for high college and college-aged students that focuses on the issue of sexual consent, which is when a man or woman agrees to specific sexual behaviors.

There are four videos in the collection, and each individual just one exhibits a range of scenarios where by there are both crystal clear indicators of consent or possible confusion. Two of the videos, “When They are Kinda Into It” and “When They are Just Not Into It,” aim to show youthful older people how to deal with scenarios where by accomplishing something sexual commences to sense awkward.