Minister: teens should be taught to spot abusive relationships
Adults should teach teenagers how to spot warning signs of an abusive relationship, the Minister of Social Development and Seniors said yesterday.
Tinée Furbert told the House of Assembly that action now could prevent domestic violence in the future.
She highlighted that February was Teen Dating Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month and said that the Government was committed to marking the campaign every year.
Ms Furbert told MPs: “Bermuda is witnessing an increase in abusive relationships, not only amongst adults, but with our teens.
“There has been a surge in reports from middle and high schools, and youth housing facilities.
“By working together there is an opportunity for the country to make a difference now through what is required to mitigate domestic violence among teens.
“It is intended that resources such as education and awareness campaigns, school and community forums implemented specifically for teens will potentially have a direct impact on reducing the number of adults in abusive relationships in the future.”
Ms Furbert added: “As honourable members of this honourable House it is incumbent upon us as leaders of this country and all adults involved with children’s activities to set a precedent for our youth.
“Through training and awareness on red flags, we can teach them how to respond appropriately to abusive behaviours to reduce these harmful relationships.”
Ms Furbert said that warning signs of abuse included demands made by a partner for personal information such as passwords to electronic devices or social media accounts, personal abuse and intimidation and threats to leave relationships if orders were not followed.
Ms Furbert highlighted that another red flag could be when someone was afraid to speak their mind or contradict their partner because it would cause an argument.
She added that too often warning signs were mistaken by teenagers as “a form of love”.
Ms Furbert said: “Adults can assist them with understanding that these red flags are key warnings to behaviours that should not be tolerated such as jealousy, control, manipulation, and isolation.
“This Government encourages healthy conversations with our young people on the topics of teen dating abuse and awareness, which provides them with an opportunity to ask questions, feel less vulnerable, supported and safe.”
Ms Furbert added her ministry had earlier held a virtual forum about domestic violence awareness, which attracted thousands of viewers online.
She said: “The Government is committed to observing February as Teen Dating Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month on an annual basis and encourages all sectors of our community to do the same.
“Although one month a year has been designated to teen dating abuse awareness and prevention, the Government supports ongoing initiatives that aim to continue such conversations with teens throughout the year.”
She told adults that "we must remember that teens observe our actions daily, regardless if they are positive or negative“.
Ms Furbert said: “We must be committed in doing our part daily to lay and preserve the foundations of a healthy community by having, maintaining and encouraging healthy relationships.
“Our youth turn to us for guidance that supports healthy interactions, which ultimately fosters healthy adult relationships in our community.”
* To read the minister’s statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.