With so many marriages failing, millions of teens have poor relationship models and think violence in relationships is normal.
Dating violence – like domestic violence – is widespread, with serious long-term and short-term effects.
Teen dating violence
One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.1
Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence, almost triple the national average.2
Teens often think some behaviors, like teasing and name calling, are a “normal” part of a relationship. However, these behaviors can become abusive and develop into more serious forms of violence. Teens receive messages about how to behave in relationships from peers, adults in their lives, and the media. All too often these examples suggest that violence in a relationship is normal. As teens develop emotionally, many do not know how to properly communicate with their dating partners, manage uncomfortable emotions like anger and jealousy, and treat others with respect.
Violence is related to certain risk factors. Risks of having unhealthy relationships increase for teens who:
- Believe that dating violence is acceptable
- Witness or experience violence in the home
- Have conflicts with a partner
- Have a friend involved in dating violence
- Are depressed, anxious, or have other symptoms of trauma
- Display aggression towards peers or display other aggressive behaviors
- Use drugs or illegal substances
- Engage in early sexual activity and have multiple sexual partners
Unfortunately many teens don’t report it because they are afraid to tell family or friends.
The majority of parents either don’t think it’s a issue or admit they don’t know. Most don’t even know how to recognize the signs of dating abuse.
Youth who experience dating violence are more likely to experience:
- Symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Engagement in unhealthy behaviors, such as tobacco and drug use, and alcohol
- Involvement in antisocial behaviors
- Thoughts about suicide
Additionally, youth who are victims of dating violence in high school are at higher risk for victimization during college.
Young adult dating violence
Over half of college students (57%) say they don’t know how to identify it and 58% don’t know how to help someone who’s experiencing it.
Dating violence can be prevented when teens, families, organizations, and communities work together to implement effective prevention strategies.
1 Davis, Antoinette, MPH. 2008. Interpersonal and Physical Dating Violence among Teens. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency Focus. Available at http://www.nccd-crc.org/nccd/pubs/2008_focus_teen_dating_violence.pdf.
2 Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice and Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the United States, 1993-2004.Dec. 2006.
4 Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. (Formerly: Liz Claiborne, Inc.), Conducted by Knowledge Networks, (December 2010). “College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll,” Available at: https://www.breakthecycle.org/surveys