The statistics on teen dating violence are frightening. One in ten high school students has experienced physical violence from a dating partner. To put that in perspective imagine a class of thirty high school students aged 13 to 17. Three of those students have been shoved, slapped, punched, choked, or physically hurt by a boyfriend/girlfriend.
Would you know if your child was being abused by a dating partner? Certainly it seems you would see marks or bruises. You believe your child would tell you. In reality you may not know. Often young people are embarrassed by what is happening to them. Sometimes they have been threatened by their dating partner and fear further violence.
Would you know if your child was an abuser? No one wants to believe their child could harm someone else. In reality 15-40% of young people admit perpetrating some sort of violence against a dating partner. These young abusers often go on to continue being abusive in adult relationships.
Adults victims of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking report they had been abused in some fashion between the ages of 11 and 17; 22.4% of women and 15% of men. Exposure to teen dating violence can result in a wide range of physical and mental problems later in life. Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to do poorly in school, and report binge drinking, suicide attempts, and physical fighting. Victims may also carry the patterns of violence into future relationships.
What causes teen dating violence? That’s a more difficult question to answer. The behavior can be a result of influences from family, neighborhood, peer, or even previous partners. Some of the risk factors can include:
• Use of alcohol or drugs.
• Can’t manage anger or frustration.
• Hang out with violent peers.
• Have multiple sexual partners.
• Have a friend involved in dating violence.
• Are depressed or anxious.
• Have learning difficulties and other problems at school.
• Don’t have parental supervision and support.
• Witness violence at home or in the community.
• Have a history of aggressive behavior or bullying
• Believe it’s okay to use threats or violence to get their way or to express frustration or anger.
As a community we are all responsible for spotting the signs of both victims and perpetrators. By addressing Intimate Partner Violence early on we are better able to prevent adult abuse.
For more information on Teen Dating Violence check out the following list of websites
• Understanding Teen Dating Violence Fact Sheet [PDF 314KB]
• Physical Dating Violence Among High School Students—United States, 2003
Additional CDC Resources:
• CDC TV presents Break the Silence: Stop the Violence
In “Break The Silence: Stop the Violence,” parents talk with teens about developing healthy, respectful relationships before they start dating.
• Dating Matters: Understanding Teen Dating Violence Prevention
This 60-minute, interactive training is designed to help educators, youth-serving organizations, and others working with teens understand the risk factors and warning signs associated with teen dating violence.
• Dating Matters: Strategies to Promote Health Teen Relationships
CDC’s new teen dating violence prevention initiative seeks to reduce dating violence and increase healthy relationships in high-risk urban communities through comprehensive, multisectoral prevention.
• Division of Adolescent and School Health
Promotes the health and well-being of children and adolescents to enable them to become healthy and productive adults.
• Preventing Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence: Program Activities Guide
The Preventing Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence: Program Activities Guide describes CDC’s public health activities and research related to intimate partner and sexual violence.