Written by Makeela Wells
Teen dating violence is an emerging concern that has been brought to the forefront of issues that teens face today. Teen dating violence has both individual and public health concerns and can impact an individual’s health throughout life (Center for Disease Control, 2016). Many teens fail to report teen dating violence due to the fear of embarrassment or shame (Payne, Ward, Miller, & Vasquez, 2013). Additionally, teens may be fearful about telling family and friends that they are dealing with such a traumatic experience. The goal of this blog post is to educate both adolescents and parents about what teen dating violence is, the signs and symptoms that are associated with teen dating violence, and ways to prevent teen dating violence.
What is teen dating violence?
Both male and female adolescents can be victims of teen dating violence. Research shows that roughly 9% of high school students have been physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend (Center for Disease Control, 2016). Several risk factors have been identified that may exacerbate one’s likelihood of being a victim of teen dating violence. Risk factors include the belief that dating violence is acceptable or normal. Teens who suffer from depression, anxiety, and/or substance use are more susceptible to experiencing dating violence (Center for Disease Control, 2016). Early sexual activity and having more than one sexual partner increases the likelihood of teens experiencing dating violence. Lastly, experiencing or witnessing violence in the home and having a friend who is experiencing or has experienced dating violence increases the likelihood of being a victim of teen dating violence (Center for Disease Control, 2016).
Signs of Teen Dating Violence
Warning signs have been identified that determine whether a teen is a victim of dating violence (Payne et al., 2013). These include:
Preventing Teen Dating Violence
How can teen dating violence be prevented? The first step is to provide education about and make both parents and teens aware of the prevalence of teen dating violence. It is imperative that parents and teens understand the risk factors and signs that are associated with teen dating violence. Second, it is important to educate teens about the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships and the consequences of violence for both partners (Payne et al., 2013). A third prevention measure is to teach teens positive relationship skills, including how to cope with challenging emotions and situations and effective communication strategies (Payne et al., 2013). There are also measures that adults (e.g., parents) who are concerned about teen dating violence can utilize: (1) discuss teen dating violence with children before they begin dating; (2) encourage teens to report dating violence; and (3) model behavior that they would like their teens to adopt (Payne et al., 2013).
Additional references: Learn more about Teen Dating Violence (CDC), and take the Dating Violence Quiz.
Center for Disease Control (CDC). (2016). Understanding Teen Dating Violence: Fact Sheet. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
Payne, K. L., Ward, T., Miller, A., & Vasquez, K. (2013). Teen Dating Violence: A Resource and Prevention Toolkit. Alverno College Research Center for Women and Girls. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
Dr. H. Colleen Sinclair
Social Psychologist, Relationships Researcher,
Ms. Jessica Utley
Lab Manager of the Social Relations Collaborative and Blog Editor