Love Doesn’t Have to Hurt Teens

Sound familiar?

Kevin is walking in the school hallway with his friends and sees his girlfriend at her locker with her friends. When he goes up to her, she gives him a cold look and says loudly, "I don't know why I even bother with you, loser! I guess I just keep you around because I feel sorry for you." Kevin feels frustrated because he doesn't know what he did and embarrassed because his friends saw his girlfriend putting him down.

That kind of humiliation hurts, and it is a big deal.

Jennie and Tyrone lunch in the cafeteria with her friends. They start teasing each other, but then the playing turns to insults. Tyrone sees that Jennie is upset but doesn’t stop. When Jennie gets up and says, “Get away from me, I hate you,” Tyrone says, “Shut up” and slaps her across the face.

That slap is violence, and it is a big deal.

Tony and Emily have been going out for a few weeks, and he is beginning to act like he owns her. He complains when she spends time with her best friend — or anyone except him. He expects her to meet him in the halls between classes, eat lunch with him, let him go home with her after school, and be with him every weekend. Afraid she’ll lose him, Emily begins to cut herself off from her friends.

That kind of possessiveness isn’t love — it is abuse, and it is a big deal.

Christine and Allison are in an intense argument. Christine gets madder and madder, until she finally grabs Allison, shakes her and shoves her against the wall. Later, Christine apologizes, saying, “I’m not proud I lost my temper, but you really pushed my buttons. You should know better than to get up in my face like that, because you know I get too angry to control myself.”

That kind of behavior — the shoving and then blaming someone else for the behavior — is violence, and it is a big deal.

Alfredo and Maria, who have been going out for a few weeks, are making out. Maria has been clear that she doesn’t want to go any further than kissing, but Alfredo becomes aggressive, disregarding her request to slow down and back off. He forces her to have intercourse, later telling her she was a tease and asking for it.

That kind of sex is rape, and it is a big deal.