The day your daughter starts dating is something that all of us parents look forward to with both joy and apprehension. On the one hand, it means your daughter is growing up, but on the other hand, it means there are all kinds of dangers to teach her about. With sexual assault and rape so prevalent in our current culture, it’s important to make sure that your daughter knows the risks and how avoid preventable incidents. Here are four ways to help your daughter stay safe while dating.

Teach Self-defense

If your daughter finds herself on a date with someone who doesn’t respect her authority over her body, you might need to teach her self-defense. This could include Tae Kwon Do, Judo, kickboxing, or even just basic self-defense maneuvers. She should know how and when to use these moves, and should be directed by a professional instructor. It’s also important that your daughter understands how to find help once the threat is neutralized. Calling the police is the first step, but make sure she has access to a quick ride home from a trusted friend or family member in the case of an emergency.

Setting a Curfew

The majority of assaults take place between 1am and 8am, so ensuring that your daughter is home at a reasonable hour is key. With a curfew, your daughter will have a specific time that she’s expected home each night, allowing you to keep track of if she is being detained and needs help. Make sure she is aware that the curfew is for both her safety and your ability to monitor it, and impress upon her the importance of keeping you updated if she thinks she’ll be late for any reason. Choose a curfew that is suitable based on her age and maturity level, but don’t let it go past 1am.

Teach her to Party Safely

Dating might involve going out to dance or other types of fun party activities. However, there are people who will try to take advantage of the distracted atmosphere. Teach your daughter to be vigilant and to not accept rides or drinks from strangers. You should also purchase a pocket-size date rape drug test that she can keep on her. If she ever leaves her drink unattended, it is important she test her drink before taking it, and if someone buys her a drink, the same caution should be used. In the event of any suspicions, she can test drinks to make sure they haven’t been tampered with.

Assign a Chaperone

If your daughter is still fairly young, you should consider assigning a chaperone. This can be a trusted adult who will escort your daughter and her date. They will be able to monitor their activities and ensure the safety of both your daughter and her date. The chaperone doesn’t have to sit with them constantly, but can monitor the date from a respectful distance, either waiting in the car while they go to the park, or sitting a row or two back during a movie. Make sure the chaperone is respectful of your daughter’s date and doesn’t tease or seek to embarrass her, otherwise you may find her ditching the chaperone entirely.

Dating is something that your daughter and you should look forward to. The opportunity to learn about and develop romantic relationships should be cherished. However, you both need to be vigilant and ensure that she knows how to avoid dangerous situations. By following these tips, your daughter should have a safe dating experience and know how to protect herself as she grows into adulthood.

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