When issues such as sexual violence and domestic abuse are discussed, the focus is typically on adult relationships. However, abusive behavior can occur at any stage — including in teen dating relationships. In fact, it is estimated that 10 percent of teens are subjected to sexual violence or physical abuse in dating relationships. This is why February has been designated as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.
Parents, teachers, friends, and teenagers in relationships should all become more informed about the issues surrounding dating violence. There are many resources available to help all age groups, including Preventing and Responding to Teen Dating Violence and the Safety Planning Guide. These and other resources provide more in-depth information related to dating violence, the warning signs of abusive relationships, and how to provide or seek help.
How to Help
Parents and teachers can make a positive impact by talking with teens about warning signs of physical or emotional abuse, as well as the difference between healthy and abusive relationships. Teens who want to spread awareness in their community can join initiatives like the That’s Not Cool Ambassador Program. If you are concerned that a teen you know might be in an abusive relationship, help them connect with the National Dating Abuse Helpline, which can be reached by calling 1-866-331-9474 or by texting the phrase “loveis” to 77054.
Teen dating violence may not be as well-known as other incidents of abusive relationships, but it is still a serious issue affecting all communities. By learning more about this form of sexual violence and taking a stand, you can help protect teens.