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Naperville
Thursday, May 23, 2024

Focus on Safety – Healthy relationships

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Nationally, April 21-27, 2024, is recognized as Crime Victims’ Rights Week. The Naperville Police Department is devoted to supporting victims of crime and their comprehensive needs all year long. This annual designation provides a unique opportunity to engage in conversations specifically pertaining to domestic violence. One of those conversations, as outlined by our Social Service clinicians below, is talking to our teens and young adults about healthy relationships and teen dating violence.

Teens and adolescents are at a critical time in their development where they want autonomy but also need the guidance of a trusted adult in the world of dating. Having these conversations can be intimidating, but explaining some of the hallmarks of a healthy versus an unhealthy relationship establishes a good foundation for the future.

Can you freely share your opinions, feelings and needs safely and be met with respect and understanding? Partners in a healthy relationship provide emotional support, validation and encouragement during times of need. Having trust and honesty knowing they can depend on each other, and truthful and honest even when it’s difficult. Conflict happens but is approached constructively with respect and a goal of finding a mutually agreeable solution. Lasty, healthy relationships have some interdependence, but partners also have individual identities and interests. The need for personal space and autonomy is respected and encouraged.

Communication, support and empathy, trust and honesty, conflict resolution and boundaries are the framework of establishing a healthy relationship.

It is important for teens to be aware because they are particularly susceptible to unhealthy relationships as they often lack experience, may have trouble setting boundaries, may struggle with low self-esteem and have a strong desire to be accepted by peers. A relationship may start seemingly healthy but can slowly develop hallmarks of an unhealthy relationship.

Teen dating violence can take on many forms such as physical aggression, sexual abuse or coercion, verbal abuse, emotional manipulation, or digital harassment. In addition to those types of abuse, unhealthy relationships oftentimes have red flags around controlling behavior, constant conflict, and lack of respect.

Talking to teens about these issues can and should be an ongoing process. By incorporating information and tips about teen dating violence into discussions about healthy relationships, parents and trusted adults can equip young people with the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to recognize and address dating violence effectively.

For more information on this month’s Safer Naper topic of domestic violence and victims’ rights, please visit www.naperville.il.us/ASaferNaper.

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Julie Smith
Julie Smith
Julie Smith is Crime Prevention Specialist at the Naperville Police Department. Contact her at SmithJu@naperville.il.us or (630) 305-5450.
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