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'Sometimes it's just hard to escape': How to be aware of and prevent teen dating violence

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Sad teen MGN

(WQOW) - If your teenager is dating someone, they may be in a situation where they find themselves in danger. Experts say there are several red flags to look for if you think your child is being abused.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. According to UW Health, it's estimated one in 12 teens will experience dating violence, and kids 12 to 19 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault.

Dr. Paula Cody, an adolescent expert with UW Kids, said she sees this in her practice, and that her patients don't talk about it unless she asks.

She said teens and parents should be aware of the red flags, which can start on a teen's cell phone or social media accounts, with their partner constantly checking to see where they are or calling their partner names and making them feel bad about themselves.

"Social media makes it easy to do abusive things anonymously. So your partner may be checking up on you using a fake account and you don't even realize," Cody said. "Access is 24/7 and sometimes it's just hard to escape."

Cody added parents need to have open conversations with their teenagers, because they really do value their parents' opinion. It's also important that when their teenager seeks them out that they not feel judged in any way and that you have their back.

Parents can also model healthy relationships, whether its romantic, with co-workers or other family members.

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