Teenagers should be able to discuss, plan and practise steps they can take to be safe in a home where there is violence and abuse. Support people such as family and friends can help in developing and carrying out a safety plan, too. They can also offer a place to go, or be ready to listen and offer support.
How can I work with my teenager on increasing their safety?
Explain that you want to work together to come up with a safety plan to use in case of emergencies. Any conversations with a teenager about safety planning should make clear that it's not up to them to stop the violence or to be the only one responsible for the safety of the family. The most important thing is their safety.
A safety plan should include:
- Step-by-step actions your teenager can take to increase safety at home, outside the home or in situations such as contact visits.
- When it's important to leave and how they might know this – you may want to come up with a code word that you can use in an emergency so that they know to leave the home immediately.
- Information about safe places they could go and how to get there.
- Instructions for reducing the risk of harm, such as leaving early when things feel unsafe, or not stepping in to stop the violence.
- Contact details for three or more people they could turn to who would listen and take actions to assist them.
- How and when to contact emergency services and other services that may be needed.
- What to take when leaving, such as money, an escape bag, and important items that may bring them comfort.
How can I help increase my teenager’s mental and emotional safety?
- Help them learn healthy ways of expressing and dealing with anger, fear and other emotions.
- Help them get involved in things that boost their self-esteem and make them feel good about themselves.
- Always act in a way that's non-threatening and non-violent.
- Think about taking them to counselling or therapy, if possible.
- Structure and daily routines are reassuring. As much as possible, keep these in place.