Episode 44: Helping a Friend series - "When Should I Get An Adult Involved in Difficult Situations?"Support the show
Today, as part of a series on helping a friend, we’re answering questions from local teens about when and how to get an adult involved in serious situations, like dating violence, a friend in crisis, and more.
This is Jessica Skultety, Community Outreach Associate at Safe+Sound Somerset, Somerset County, New Jersey's lead domestic violence response organization, providing services at no charge for survivors of dating and domestic abuse for over 40 years.
Today's question from local teens is: “When should I get an adult involved in difficult situations?”
Teens tell us that they hesitate to get adults involved. Maybe they are embarrassed or scared. Also, as humans, we often believe we can handle things alone. And while that may be true sometimes, it’s important to figure out who in your life is a trusted adult before something serious happens. Reaching out to someone for help is actually a strength, not a sign of weakness. We can’t do everything in life alone.
This person could be any trusted adult, like a parent, adult family member, family friend, teacher, school staff member, or coach, for example. If a situation is going on at school, it’s best to reach out to more than one trusted adult – someone at school, and someone at home.
Teens ask us, “In what situations can a trusted adult help?”
If a friend of yours is experiencing dating abuse or feeling unsafe around their partner, you might want to confide in a trusted adult to get ideas for how to be a good friend.
If YOU are feeling unsafe around your dating partner, a friend, or someone else’s dating partner, or they have been treating you poorly, you can talk to an adult about your options. If your friend’s behavior suddenly changes, talk to an adult. Maybe they are dressing or acting differently, using or talking about using substances, or are acting nervous about their dating partner’s reactions.
You should reach out to an adult in any situation where someone is being bullied in person or online. Talk to someone if you or a friend are being threatened in any way, or are afraid of someone else’s actions, including friends, peers, or adults. All of these situations can get worse and unfortunately often do.
Remember, if it’s an emergency situation, like if someone is threatening to hurt themselves or someone else, call 911. If you are unsure about calling 911 or you feel unsafe calling, a trusted adult can actually do it with you.
So, what else can a trusted adult do for you? They can listen to you. Sometimes, all we need is someone to listen and make us feel like we aren’t imagining things. An adult can also provide some answers to your own questions. They can connect you with further resources. Just like calling 911 with you, they could sit with you while you call or text our hotline to talk about safety planning or for more information about dating violence.
Also, if you don’t get the support you need from one adult, don’t be afraid to reach out to a different trusted adult.
Remember that all adults over 18 are mandatory reporters, which means they have to report if they think a child under 18 is experiencing child abuse or neglect. Teens ask us what to do if a friend is being abused by their parents or another adult. It’s always better to get help and stop the abuse because often these situations get worse.
So, even if a friend has made you promise not to tell anyone, you should tell a trusted adult right away.
There is always help available in difficult situations – often, all you have to do is reach out.
If you want to speak with an expert about dating violence, call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset 24/7 confidential hotline at 866-685-1122 for supportive listening, information, and safety planning.
Want to “Ask Ava” a question? Visit our website at www.safe-sound.org/ask-ava. Thank you for listening today. Join us next time here on Ask Ava.