February marks 10 years since Congress declared the month of February National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
Teen dating violence is a type of intimate-partner violence. It occurs between two people in a close relationship.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, statistics from “Love Is Respect” show that teen dating violence affects youth and young adults (ages 12–24) in every community across the nation.
Behaviors include different types of violence, such as:
You should start talking to your pre-teens about healthy relationships before they start dating.
You don’t have to be specific. You can simply make comments about relationships—positive and negative—while watching TV or a movie or when you see relationship behaviors in person. By indirectly doing so, they will see that you, their parent, has an understanding of healthy relationships.
As they say, actions speak louder than words. So remember, what you do in your home and with your partner in front of your child can also help instill positive (or negative) values and behaviors in their future relationships.
Some behaviors, such as teasing and name-calling, seem like a normal part of a teen relationship. However, these can sometimes develop into a form of abuse or even violence. What might seem like fun, joking, or playful behavior at the time can become abusive when one partner begins to feel threatened or bullied by the other.
According to the CDC’s 2017 report, 8 percent of high school students reported physical violence, and 7 percent reported that they experienced sexual violence from a dating partner. However, many teens do not report unhealthy behaviors, because they are afraid to tell family and friends.
Make sure your teen knows that abuse can present itself in all different ways, and that they should never feel threatened to stay in a relationship if they don’t want to.
Some forms of abuse can be:
If you suspect your teen may be a victim of abuse, you are the most important resource and advisor for your child. Below are useful resources to help deter or address teen dating abuse and violence.
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“Resources for Parents & Educators,” BreaktheCycle.org. Accessed February 14, 2020.
“Preventing Intimate Partner Violence Across the Lifespan,” National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention. Accessed February 14, 2020.
“Dating Abuse: Tools for Talking to Teens,” Jewish Women International. Accessed February 14, 2020.
“Teens and Romantic Relationships,” Child Mind Institute, Inc. Accessed February 14, 2020.
“Dating Matters®, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention. Accessed February 14, 2020.
“Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2017,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed February 14, 2020.