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Tips for Talking to Your Kids about Teen Dating Violence

February marks 10 years since Congress declared the month of February National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

February 25, 2020 | HF Healthy Living Team

Talking to Your Kids about Teen Dating Violence
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What is teen dating violence?

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:

  • physical violence
  • sexual violence
  • psychological aggression
  • stalking (physically or digitally)


Fast facts

  • 1 in 3 high school students experiences some form of dating violence.
  • 81% of parents said they didn’t think that, or didn’t know if, dating violence was a problem.


Help your child understand what a healthy relationship feels and looks like

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.

Make sure your teen knows the signs of an abusive relationship

Prevention matters, so talk to your kids before they start dating. Need help? The CDC covers just about everything to help you with this touchy topic.

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:

  • constant criticism
  • keeping them away from friends or family
  • wanting to check phone messages
  • using social media against them (to monitor them or posting harmful content or images)
  • threatening them if they want to break up or not be with them
  • forcing them to do things they don’t want to do
  • making them feel guilty for not making them happy
  • hurting them physically

Resources for parents and educators

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.


© 2020 HF Management Services, LLC.

Healthfirst is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Healthfirst group of affiliated companies.

This health information or program is for educational purposes only and not intended to treat, diagnose, or act as a substitute for medical advice from your provider. Consult your healthcare provider and always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions.

“Resources for Parents & Educators,” 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.

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