What Is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month?
February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month (TDVAM). This is an issue that impacts everyone – not just teens – but their parents, teachers, friends and communities as well. Together, we can raise the nation’s awareness about teen dating violence and promote safe, healthy relationships.
In his Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month Proclamation President Obama called on all Americans “to stand against dating violence when we see it.” At a time when an estimated 1 in 10 teens will experience dating violence we all must take this opportunity to amplify our efforts and shine a spotlight on this important issue.
What Is the Impact of Teen Dating Violence?
Nationwide, youth age 12 to 19 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault. Studies show that approximately 10% of adolescents report being the victim of physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner during the previous year. Girls are particularly vulnerable to experiencing violence in their relationships and are more likely to suffer long-term behavioral and health consequences, including suicide attempts, eating disorders, and drug use.
Adolescents in abusive relationships often carry these unhealthy patterns of violence into future relationships. Indeed, children who are victimized or witness violence frequently bring this experience with them to the playground, the classroom, later into teen relationships and, ultimately, they can end up the victims and perpetrators of adult intimate partner violence.
Talk to Teens!
Everyone can make a difference by reaching out to young people in simple ways. As we interact with teens in our work or personal lives each of us can act on President Obama’s call to stand against teen dating violence by:
- Discussing the warning signs of dating abuse (all kinds, not just physical abuse).
- Creating a positive connection to the issue – talk about the characteristics of healthy teen relationships, not just abusive ones – and use statistics sparingly.
- Talking about how the media portrays healthy and unhealthy relationships. For example, many popular movies, TV shows, commercials, books, and magazines portray stalking as romantic or harmless when it is actually very dangerous.
- Getting involved even if you don’t have a lot of resources – an information table, classroom discussion, or school announcement can get the conversation started.
If you know of a teen or parent that could benefit from speaking to a caring, well-trained peer advocate, please connect them with the National Dating Abuse Helpline, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, at 1-866-331-9474 (TTY: 1-866-331-8453), by texting “loveis” to 77054, or through live chat at loveisrespect.org.