Teen Dating Violence Prevention

For parents of teenagers and organizations regularly working with teens, knowing and recognizing the warning signs of unhealthy behavior that can lead to teen dating violence is crucial. This is especially true in the context of a recent national survey in which 1 in 10 teens reported being hit or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend at least once in the last twelve months. Teens surveyed also reported that during the twelve months prior to the survey, 1 in 10 teens were being touched, kissed, or physically forced to have sexual intercourse without consent at least once by their significant other.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experience domestic violence at the hands of an intimate partner at some point. Increasing awareness of what domestic violence is and how it can present itself, especially in teen dating relationships, is critical for keeping the teens in our lives safe, both now and in the future.

The role parents play in talking to teens about the importance of healthy, respectful relationships is crucial. According to one study, 3 in 4 parents have never talked to their children about domestic violence. Parents are in the best position to take action if they think their teen may be in an unhealthy or dangerous relationship. Parents should be able to recognize the following warning signs and be ready to listen and give support when their child is ready to open up:

  • You notice their significant other calls them names or puts them down in front of other people.
  • Their significant other becomes jealous if they talk to other people.
  • They apologize for their significant other’s behavior and make excuses justifying their behavior
  • They frequently cancel plans at the last minute for reasons that sound untrue.
  • Their significant other is always checking up, calling or texting and demanding to know where they have been and with whom.
  • They are constantly worried about upsetting their partner or making them angry.
  • They give up things they used to enjoy such as spending time with friends or other activities.
  • Their weight, appearance or grades have changed dramatically. These could be signs of depression, which could indicate abuse.
  • They have injuries they can’t explain or the explanations they give don’t make sense.
Modeling healthy behavior begins in the home. Parents can set an example for their children each day and practice open communication and relational dialog with teens as a form of dating violence prevention.