Teen dating violence is defined as the physical, sexual or psychological/emotional violence within a teen dating relationship, as well as stalking. It can occur between a current or former dating partner. It can also be called things like relationship abuse, intimate partner violence, dating abuse, domestic violence or domestic abuse.
Adolescents and adults are often unaware that teens experience dating violence. In a nationwide survey, 9.4 percent of high school students report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the 12 months prior to the survey. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey). About 1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men who ever experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey).
Helpful tips for parents:
- Do your own research and get the facts before talking to your teen.
- Provide your teen with examples of healthy relationships and point out unhealthy behavior. This can be done with your life, people you/they know, TV shows, music, movies, etc.
- Ask open-ended questions that encourage discussion. Make sure you listen to your teen and give them a chance to talk! Avoid interrupting, lecturing, etc.
- Don’t be pushy. If your teen isn’t ready to talk, try again another time.
- Be supportive and nonjudgmental so they know they can come to you if they need help.
- Admit to not knowing the answer to a particular question. This helps you build trust with your teen!
- Reinforce that dating should be fun and not a stressful experience.
- Discuss options that your teen has if they have witnessed or experienced dating violence.
- Remind them that they have the right to say no, and others do too.
- Assure your teen that they can talk to you if their relationship is feeling uncomfortable, frightening, or uncomfortable in any way. But remember, it is important that decisions made about the relationship be their own.
Questions to ask your teen to start a conversation:
- Are any of your friends dating?
- What are their relationships like?
- What would you want in a relationship?
- Have you witnessed dating violence between two people you know?
- How does it make you feel?
- Were you scared?
- Do you know what you would do if you witnessed or experienced abuse?
- Has anyone you know posted anything bad about a friend online?
- What happened afterwards?
- Would it be weird if someone you were dating texted you all day to ask you what you’re doing?
- Why might a person stay in an abusive relationship?
- What makes a relationship healthy?
CDC: Teen Dating Violence
Love is Respect
NCJRS: Teen Dating Violence – Publications
NCJRS: Teen Dating Violence
Break the Cycle
Office for the Victims of Crime: Teen Dating Violence
The White House: 1 is 2 Many