What is Teen Dating Violence?
Healthy relationships are defined as people creating positive connections based on mutual respect, trust, and honesty. Unfortunately, in today’s youth culture, teen dating violence has become a serious issue.
Teen dating or relationship violence is a pattern of unacceptable behavior where someone is aggressive towards his or her significant other. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teen dating violence, or dating violence, “can take place in person, online, or through technology. It is a type of intimate partner violence that can include the following types of behavior:
Physical Violence: When a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, or using another type of physical force.
Sexual Violence: Forcing or attempting to force a partner to take part in a sex act and or sexual touching when the partner does not consent or is unable to consent or refuse. It also includes non-physical sexual behaviors like posting or sharing sexual pictures of a partner without their consent or sexting someone without their consent.
Psychological Aggression: The use of verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm a partner mentally or emotionally and exert control over a partner.
Stalking: A pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact by a current or former partner that causes fear or safety concern for an individual victim or someone close to the victim.”
The State of the Issue
Unfortunately, teen dating violence is common today. It can happen to anyone, any age, any ethnicity, any lifestyle choice. Here are the facts:
- 1.5 million U.S. high school boys & girls admit to being hit or physically harmed in the last year by someone they are romantically involved with. *dosomething.org
- On average, violent relationships begin at age 15. *genesisshelter.org
- 1 in 3 girls in the US is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence. *loveisrespect.org
- 33% of adolescents in America are victim to sexual, physical, verbal, or emotional dating abuse. *dosomething.org
- 50% of young people who experience rape or physical or sexual abuse will attempt to commit suicide. *dosomething.org
What are the Consequences?
Teen dating violence profoundly impacts lifelong health, opportunity, and wellbeing. Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. The CDC states that, “Unhealthy, abusive, or violent relationships can have short-and long-term negative effects, including severe consequences, on a developing teen. Youth who are victims of teen dating violence are more likely to:
- Experience depression and anxiety symptoms
- Engage in unhealthy behaviors, like using tobacco, drugs, and alcohol
- Exhibit antisocial behaviors, like lying, theft, bullying, or hitting
- Think about suicide
Violence in an adolescent relationship sets the stage for future relationship problems, including intimate partner violence and sexual violence perpetration and/or victimization throughout life.
How to Recognize the Warning Signs
When it comes to preventing teen dating violence, the ultimate goal is to end it before it begins. As a result, the most effective prevention begins by educating teens about important life skills like how to form healthy relationships with others, solid communication skills, conflict resolution, and how to disagree with others in a healthy and respectful way. It’s also vital to teach teens the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship, especially the subtle signs that many teens mistake for love. According to verwellfamily.com, “the most common warning signs are:
- Asking for passwords to one’s devices or accounts
- Insisting on spending every free moment together
At first, it is easy to believe these behaviors demonstrate how much the other person cares. But in reality, these are often controlling actions that often lead to more attempts to control. Any act of control or violence is a warning sign, even if the other person apologizes and promises to never do it again. Controlling behaviors and violence in a relationship usually do not improve or go away. Instead, the behavior often escalates.”
How to Get Help
If you are a victim of dating or domestic violence, or if your child is a victim, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for confidential assistance from trained advocates.
Book a YES Program!
Want to learn more about our teen dating violence prevention programs? We empower students to engage in healthy and positive relationships by defining the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship, describing the current climate on the issue, what the potential consequences are, and teach students to recognize the warning signs before it starts. Content is based on age appropriateness (6th-12th grades). Please send us a message through our Book Now page, and someone from our YES team will be in touch with you within 1 business day.