Health and Mind: Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Published 3:30 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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Teen dating violence is an adverse childhood experience that affects millions of young people in the United States.  Dating violence can take place in person, online, or through technology. It is a type of intimate partner violence that can include the following types of behavior:

  • Physical violence is when a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, or using another type of physical force.
  • Sexual violence is forcing or attempting to force a partner to take part in a sex act and or sexual touching when the partner does not or cannot consent. 
  • Psychological aggression is the use of verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm a partner mentally or emotionally and/or exert control over a partner.
  • Stalking is a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact by a partner that causes fear or concern for one’s own safety or the safety of someone close to the victim.

Teen dating violence is common. Data from CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey and the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey indicate that:

  • Nearly 1 in 11 female and approximately 1 in 14 male high school students report having experienced physical dating violence in the last year.
  • About 1 in 8 female and 1 in 26 male high school students report having experienced sexual dating violence in the last year.
  • Twenty-six % of women and 15% of men who were victims of contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime first experienced these or other forms of violence by that partner before age 18.

What are the consequences?

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Unhealthy, abusive, or violent relationships can have short-and long-term negative effects, including severe consequences, on a developing teen. For example, youth who are victims of teen dating violence are more likely to:

  • Experience symptoms of depression and anxiety;
  • Engage in unhealthy behaviors, like using tobacco, drugs, and alcohol;
  • Exhibit antisocial behaviors, like lying, theft, bullying, or hitting;
  • Think about suicide.

Violence in an adolescent relationship sets the stage for problems in future relationships, including intimate partner violence and sexual violence perpetration and/or victimization throughout life.

How to prevent teen dating violence

Preventing teen dating violence will require a broad coalition of parents, schools and other community organizations, including education about healthy relationships starting at an early age. Here are some steps you can take with your child to reduce the risk.

Become a trusted source of information about relationships. Don’t assume your child will learn what they need to know about relationships on their own. Talk about relationships, answer questions openly and honestly.

Teach your child about healthy relationships — how to form them and how to recognize them. Healthy relationships are built on trust, honesty, respect, equality and compromise. 

Raise your child to be assertive — to speak up for herself and voice her opinions and needs. Make sure your child understands what consent means — that both people in a relationship openly talk about and agree on what kind of activity they want to (or don’t want to) engage in.

Teach your child to recognize warning signs of an unhealthy relationship. These include jealousy and controlling behavior, including excessive communication or monitoring, or asking to keep aspects of the relationship secret.

Know when to get involved. Recognize the warning signs that your child is in an unhealthy relationship. These may include: changes in mood, changes in sleep and eating patterns, withdrawal from former friends, declining school performance, or loss of interest in a favorite sport or activity.

When you see these kinds of changes, talk with your child. Ask how things are going and explain that you notice the changes. Your child may or may not open up to you at first, but if you continue to show your interest in a caring way, he or she may tell you in time. If you find out that your child is being abused, don’t try to handle the situation on your own. Effective action will likely require the help of someone at the school, a professional counselor, and possibly even the police. You might encourage your child to contact a service such as the National Dating Abuse Helpline (at or 1-866-331-9474).

Clark County Health Department provides programs for the entire family, including WIC, HANDS, family planning, and immunizations.  For more information on all our services, please call 859-744-4482 or visit our website at  You can also “like” us on Facebook.