“After fifteen years of working to end domestic violence, we have learned that teens are not immune from abuse in relationships. Teen dating violence is all too common, and ends up leading to vicious and unhealthy cycles for years to come. Our responsibility - as parents, teachers, mentors, and community leaders - is to guide our young people towards respectful relationships free from harassment and abuse; teach them that it’s ok to walk away from a bad situation; and encourage them to speak out when they see a friend in trouble. In many communities, teens themselves are leading the way in organizing their schools and communities to stand against violence. I commend them.”
—Vice President Joe Biden
Teen Dating Violence (DV) Prevention and Awareness Month is a national effort to raise awareness about abuse in youth relationships and promote programs that prevent it during the month of February.
Domestic violence is not just a problem for adults; it’s increasingly prevalent among teens. One in three teens has experienced some kind of abuse, including verbal and emotional abuse; one in four has been pressured into oral sex or intercourse. Many teens will not report the abuse, and will stay with their abuser.
Recognizing abuse in a relationship is difficult, but especially for teens. There are many types of abuse that teens often believe are not abusive or are normal in a relationship. Even though teen relationships may be different from adult relationships in many ways, teens do experience the same types of physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse that adults do. Teens also face unique obstacles if they decide to get help. Unlike many adults, teens may not have money, transportation, or safe places to go. They may have concerns about lack of confidentiality, reports to police and child protective services, and parental notification. But teens do have rights to a safe and healthy relationship.
The repercussions of teen dating violence are impossible to ignore – they hurt not just the young people victimized but also their families, friends, schools and communities. Throughout February, organizations and individuals nationwide are coming together to highlight the need to educate young people about healthy relationships, teach healthy relationship skills and prevent the devastating cycle of abuse.