Teen dating violence is a real issue and comes with serious short and long-term effects. It’s important to help young people learn how to build and recognize healthy relationships to support their development and keep them safe. Studies show one in three young people will be in an abusive or unhealthy relationship, and most will not report it because they do not want to expose themselves or do not know the laws surrounding domestic violence.
Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is the perfect time to educate teens about dating abuse. Alternatives to Violence (ATV) is a great resource to champion efforts in schools, workplaces, teen clubs and venues, and even at home – anywhere where there is an opportunity to reach teens.
“Dating violence is preventable, especially if education about healthy relationships starts early,” said ATV Executive Director, Kari Clark. “A teenager experiencing a new relationship might not realize that some of the uncomfortable feelings that are happening are not healthy. We want to help make young people aware of the warning signs.”
Teen dating violence is when one or both partners, in an attempt to control the other, use abusive acts to make that person do what he or she wants. This may involve but is not limited to, physical violence. Teen dating violence can also be verbal, emotional, sexual, or a combination of these.
Signs of abuse in a teen relationship may include:
- Name-calling; extreme jealousy; threatening to hurt the partner, family, or him/herself
- Physical violence such as slapping, hair pulling, and/or strangling
- Unwanted touching; forced sex or sexual acts
- Verbal discouragement; doesn’t compromise
- Sets boundaries; doesn’t allow a partner to see friends
Teens that experience dating violence are more likely to:
- Experience depression and anxiety
- Engage in unhealthy behaviors such as using tobacco, drugs, and/or alcohol
- Exhibit antisocial behaviors
- Think about suicide
- Have increased risk of victimization during college
Those who wish to help educate teens in their community can follow ATV’s Facebook page or contact Marigaye Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org for engagement ideas, collateral and partnerships.
Anyone who believes their child is experiencing teen dating violence can call ATV for help at 970-669-5150. ATV provides essential support services to anyone impacted by violence. This can include advocacy, counseling, information, and referrals to local resources, emergency shelters, and in some cases longer-term housing. While the majority of clients are victims of domestic violence, ATV also provides services to victims of sexual assault and human trafficking. Learn more about ATV at alternativestoviolence.org.
Alternatives to Violence was established in 1983 and is registered with the Colorado Secretary of State as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization.