Child Trends- 5 Things to Know about Teen Dating Violence
February 21, 2014
In 2012, President Obama declared
February Teen Dating Violence (TDV) Awareness and Prevention Month,
reaffirming the severity of this issue in the United States. Dating
violence, a pattern of abusive acts used to gain power or control over a
dating partner, places teens at risk for a host of negative outcomes.
Notably, teens who experience dating violence are more likely to be
involved in a violent intimate partner relationship as adults, and are
at increased risk
of teen pregnancy, depression, eating disorders, suicidal behaviors,
low self-esteem, sexually transmitted diseases, and poor academic
may sound the same, but TDV is different from violence in adult
romantic relationships. Below are five things you need to know about
teen dating violence:
Teen dating violence is common.
Estimates suggest that between one in ten and one in four teens have experienced some form of dating violence. While no group is protected from TDV, rates are highest for American Indian and black teens. Pregnant teens, teens
from low-income backgrounds, and those whose parents were involved in a
violent romantic relationship are also at increased risk for being
involved in dating violence. New research
shows that LGBT youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to
experience dating violence. And, rates of dating violence vary by state.
Male and female teens are equally likely to perpetrate and experience dating violence.
Unlike adult dating violence
(in heterosexual relationships), in which women are more often the
victim and men the abuser, young men and women report perpetration and
victimization at equal rates,
although teen males more often report perpetrating sexual abuse and
teen females more often report perpetrating physical abuse. Females,
however, tend to sustain physical injuries and require medical treatment
at greater rates than males. A study with LGBT adolescents also found that males were more likely to perpetrate sexual coercion than females.
Technology changes everything.
forms of abuse (psychological, physical, financial, and sexual) for
teen and adults are similar, social media, cell phones, and other
technologies have provided the platform for cyber abuse, which has taken
hold at alarming rates, particularly among teens. Between 10 and 25 percent of teens
report experiencing cyber abuse. This may take the form of sending
threatening or emotionally abusive texts, emails, and messages, posting
sexual pictures online, or monitoring a partner's cell or social media
use. For example, one-third of teens reported that they had been texted 10 to 30 times an hour by a partner monitoring their behavior.
The warning signs in teens are different than in adults, and may be hard to detect.
is a period of change, and it is hard to know when teens are going
through something serious or just "being teens." Some factors that put
teens at risk for committing dating violence
include having an excessive temper, a history of fighting, or violent
friends, and having witnessed violence as a child. Warning signs that a
teen may be experiencing dating violence
include isolation from friends and family; constant, urgent need to
communicate with a dating partner; making excuses for a dating partner;
decreased performance in school; and unexplained injuries.
There are ways to help.
Most teens date at some point before the end of their high school years. Healthy relationships
that foster positive self-esteem and communication skills can play an
important role in their development. Relationship education programs can
help teens--particularly those most at risk for dating violence, such
as pregnant and parenting teens--learn about and engage in healthy
relationships and may have additional benefits such as preventing teen pregnancy. A number of resources are available for parents
and other adults who come into contact with teens to help them
recognize dating violence and support healthy dating behaviors. For
example, guidance counselors and teachers can use this training to learn to recognize the warning signs of teen dating violence and know how to respond, and a new toolkit for healthcare providers can help medical professionals incorporate screening for dating violence into routine visits with adolescents. Teens can check out this site to take a healthy relationship quiz and get other facts and resources on dating violence, or download free, award-winning apps aimed at preventing dating violence.