Teen Dating Violence and Healthy Relationships

Approximately one in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner  (Davis, Antoinette, 2008) and 57% of teens know someone who has been physically, sexually, or verbally abusive in a dating relationship. (Liz Claiborne Inc., 2005).  Teen dating violence, a pattern of destructive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner, is increasingly recognized as a widespread community issue affecting young people across gender, sexual orientation, race and culture.

While there are many similarities to domestic violence, young people may experience increased risk and vulnerability because of their life circumstances and life stage.  Youth may feel intense peer pressure and fear from the disapproval of adults, adding barriers to seeking help.  Teens have less recourse to legal remedies and youth in unstable living situations are at increased risk for exploitation.  In addition, the large role of technology in many teens’ lives can be used as a tool by abusers that not only complicates the abuse, but allows it to stay more hidden.    

Mutual respect, equality and open communication can be modeled as healthy relationship values and positively reinforced among peers and across generations. Those values are just a starting point. Think about and discuss what a healthy relationship means to you!  Challenging and analyzing messages about gender roles, violence and other stereotypes are also powerful tools in reducing violence now and creating healthy relationships for the future. 

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Selected Resources

Teen Dating Violence and Healthy Relationships Overview

This one and a half page document gives a brief overview of teen dating violence and healthy relationships and also includes references to February's Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month. 

Teen Dating Violence and Healthy Relationships Resource Guide

This eight page guide features free resources available through the internet that provide information on teen dating violence and healthy relationships.  The resource list includes websites speaking directly to teens as well as resources for adult allies.  Last updated: Feb 2nd 2012.

Topics include:

  • Teen dating violence
  • Healthy relationships & Social Change
  • Sexual violence
  • Digital abuse
  • Teens exposed to domestic violence.
Teen Dating Abuse Safety Plan

This two part safety plan is for teens in an abusive dating relationship to be prepared just in case and for teens ready to leave an abusive relationship to be safe during and after the breakup.  The document is designed for teens to fill in based on what is right for them.  The document includes:

  • Teen Dating Abuse Safety Plan if you are in a relationship
  • Teen Dating Abuse Safety Plan if you decide to break up
What Teens Affected by Dating and Sexual Violence Need

This one page flier offers a list of what youth affected by dating and sexual violence need.  Consider hanging this flier at your program, in schools and in your community.  There is a space to include your program's local contact information. 

How to Help a Friend in an Abusive Relationship

This one page flier includes suggestions of how to help a friend in an abusive relationship.  Consider distributing this handout at your program, in schools and in your community.  There is a space to include your program's local contact information.  

25 Ways to Prevent Teen Dating and Sexual Violence

This one page document lists 25 ways YOU can prevent teen dating and sexual violence.  These action steps are relevant for EVERYONE.  It's a great way to get discussion going and action happening during February and throughout the year.  Talk with others about more ways you can help stop the cycle of violence. 

Teens and Mandated Reporting: Tips for Advocates Building a Relationship

Ten tips and considerations for advocates building a relationship with teen clients while respecting reporting and teen confidentiality.

Tech-Savvy Teens

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