While February is teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM), advocating for healthy relationships among young people is a year-round effort. Statistics show that 9.4% of high school students have experienced intentional physical harm from their partners in the past year. This issue not only affects teenagers but also extends its impact on their families, educators, friends, and communities, and it falls on all of us to stand against dating violence whenever it surfaces.
What Is Teen Dating Violence?
Teen dating violence encompasses various abusive behaviors inflicted by intimate partners, including:
- Physical abuse,
- Emotional abuse,
- Sexual abuse, and
These can lead to unhealthy relationship patterns and can follow young people into adulthood, leading to adult intimate partner violence.
Ways to Prevent Teen Dating Violence
Open communication is key in preventing teen dating violence. Encouraging teens to communicate without fear of punishment or judgment is essential. This requires a foundation of trust, respect, and honesty in your relationship—teenagers need to feel they can confide. With a positive and trusting relationship, adults can help teens navigate healthy relationships and learn to discern red flags.
Of course, to be able to help teens spot red flags, adults need to recognize them, too. According to Break The Cycle, these are ten of the most common warning signs of abuse:
- Checking your cell phone or email without permission.
- Constant put-downs.
- Extreme jealousy or insecurity.
- Explosive temper.
- Isolating you from family or friends.
- Making false accusations.
- Mood swings.
- Physically hurting you in any way.
- Telling you what to do.
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.
How to Take Part in TDVAM
Discussing warning signs of abuse, promoting positive portrayals of healthy relationships, and raising awareness about media misrepresentations are simple, everyday ways you can make a difference. And during Respect Week (February 5–9), there are daily opportunities to participate!
- Monday, February 5 — Celebrations of Love celebrate the cultural traditions and celebrations of love unique to you and your family.
- Tuesday, February 6 — Wear Orange Day
- Wednesday, February 7 — Healthy Relationships create a graphic or video to share behaviors and qualities that represent a healthy love for you.
- Thursday, February 8 — Share your Love create an image, song, or share tv show clips that represent your love language
- Friday, February 9 — Self Love Day followers on social media share their favorite way to practice self love.
Additionally, the Brooklyn Public Library is hosting a webinar to help teach the message that love is respect and how to achieve healthy conflict resolution for teens and young adults. Check out the event and register here.
Dating Abuse Helpline