a mother and daughter hugging

Teenagers should be able to discuss, plan and practice steps they can take to be safe in a home where there is violence and abuse. Support people like family and friends can help to develop and carry 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 would like 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 is not up to them to stop the violence or 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 would  be important to leave and how they might know this – you may want to come up with a code word that you can say when they need to leave the home in case of an emergency.
  • The safe places they could go and how to get there.
  • Things to reduce 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, 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 is non-threatening and non-violent
  • Think about taking them to counselling or therapy if possible
  • Keep as much structure and routine with them as you can

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