Learn What Experts Think
Defining Teen Dating Violence
Teen dating violence is defined as violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. The existence of such a relationship is determined based on the length and type of relationship, along with the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
Signs of Teen Dating Violence
Some signs may be obvious:
- One student in the relationship always seems to be controlling the other, either physically, emotionally, or verbally.
- One student in the relationship has unexplained bruises.
- One student in the relationship always defers to the other.
But look beyond the obvious toward the following school-focused behaviors:
- A drop in attendance.
- A drop in grades.
- Requests for schedule changes.
And consider whether the student has displayed the following:
- Isolation from former friends.
- Loss of interest in activities.
- Loss of self-confidence.
- Sudden weight change.
None of these signs by themselves may indicate an abusive relationship (and the signs may be symptoms of other concerns as well), so look at them as a whole.
Impact of Teen Dating Violence
It is estimated that 1 in 10 teens will be intentionally hurt by someone they are dating this year.  This type of abuse affects individuals regardless of age and gender, though young women are disproportionately affected by both dating violence and sexual assault. The Department of Justice reports that 1 in 5 young women will be a victim of sexual assault while they are in college. 
Victims of dating violence may also suffer a variety of long-term effects: 
- Teens who are victims are more likely to be depressed and do poorly in school.
- They may engage in unhealthy behaviors, like using drugs and alcohol, and are more likely to have eating disorders.
- Some teens even think about or attempt suicide.
- Teens who are victims in high school are at higher risk for victimization in college.
Addressing Teen Dating Violence
President Barack Obama has issued a proclamation establishing February 2013 as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.  In addition to encouraging all Americans to support and empower young people to develop healthy relationships, the President highlights Vice President Biden’s 1is2Many initiative, which uses technology and outreach to get the message out and to help reduce dating violence and sexual assault among teens and young adults. 
The White House also has launched a Campus Sexual Violence Initiative, issuing a Dear Colleague letter that makes it very clear that rape and sexual assault fall within the rubric of sexual harassment under Title IX. http://safesupportiveschools.ed.gov/index.php?id=1511
- U.S. Department of Education Dear Colleague Letter (with enclosure)-- Coming Soon!
- Resources from "February of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month": http://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/index.php?id=1540.
- Austin Independent School District. Student welfare: Freedom from harassment. Austin, TX: Author. Retrieved February 4, 2013 from BullyingSexHarassDatingViolenceComplaintFormInstruct_2010-11.pdf
- Break the Cycle: Empowering Youth to End Domestic Violence: www.breakthecycle.org
- Cornelius, T. L. and Resseguie, N. (2007). Primary and secondary prevention programs for dating violence: A review of the literature. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 12, 364-375.
- Dating Matters: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships:http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/DatingMatters_flyer-a.pdf
- Davis, A. (2008). Interpersonal and physical dating violence among teens. Oakland, CA: National Council on Crime and Delinquency. Retrieved February 4, 2013 from: http://nccdglobal.org/sites/default/files/publication_pdf/focus-dating-violence.pdf
- Foshee, V. A., Karriker-Jaffee, K. J., Reyes, H. L., Ennett, S. T., Suchindran, C., Bauman, K. E., et al. (2008). What accounts for demographic differences in trajectories of adolescent dating violence? An examination of intrapersonal and contextual mediators. Journal of Adolescent Health, 42(6), 596–604.
- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. (2002). Guidelines for schools on addressing teen dating violence.
- Khubchandani, J., Price, J. H., Thompson, A., Dake, J. A., Wiblishauser, M., & Telljohann, S. K. (2012). Adolescent dating violence: A national assessment of school counselors’ perceptions and practices. Pediatrics.
- Hébert, M., Lavoie, F., Vitaro, F., McDuff, P., & Tremblay, R. E. (2008). Association of child sexual abuse and dating victimization with mental health disorder in a sample of adolescent girls. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 21(2), 181–189.
- Loveisrespect.org. (n.d.). National Dating Abuse Helpline (866-331-9474). Retrieved February 4, 2013 from: www.loveisrespect.org
- Sears, H. A., Byers, E. S., Whelan, J. J., & Saint-Pierre, M. (2006). “If it hurts you, then it is not a joke”: Adolescents’ ideas about girls’ and boys’ use and experience of abusive behavior in dating relationships. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 21(9), 1191–1207.
- Smith, P. H., White, J. W., & Holland, L. J. (2003). A longitudinal perspective on dating violence among adolescent and college-age women. American Journal of Public Health, 93(7), 1104–1109.
- National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2014). Understanding teen dating violence: Fact sheet. Atlanta, GA: Author. Retrieved January 16, 2015 from: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/teen-dating-violence-2014-a.pdf
- Web of Friends: Linking Teens Experiencing Abuse to Help and Hope: www.weboffriends.org/index.html
- VetoViolence: Dating Matters Online Training: http://vetoviolence.cdc.gov/dating-matters
- Florida Council Against Sexual Violence Newsletter: http://www.fcasv.org/publications/newsletters/obama-administration-launches-campus-sexual-violence-initiative