February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month
Dating violence can happen to any teen in a romantic, dating, or sexual relationship, anytime, anywhere. But it doesn’t have to happen at all. Learn how to prevent teen dating violence and to promote healthy relationships with CDC’s online resources.
Did you know that in a recent national survey, 1 in 10 teens reported being hit or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend at least once in the 12 months before the survey? Additionally, during the 12 months before the survey, 1 in 10 teens reported they had been kissed, touched, or physically forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to at least once by someone they were dating.
What You Can Do
Talk to teens about the importance of developing healthy, respectful relationships.
Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. 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. That is why adults need to talk to teens now about the importance of developing healthy, respectful relationships.
Dating violence can have a negative effect on health throughout life. Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. They might also engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as using tobacco, drugs, and alcohol. Teens who are victims in high school are at higher risk for victimization during college and in adult relationships.
What CDC Is Doing
CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention is leading the initiative, Dating Matters®: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships. Dating Matters is a comprehensive teen dating violence prevention model that builds upon current evidence-based practice and experience to promote respectful, nonviolent dating relationships among youth. Dating Matters includes multiple prevention activities that work together to reduce the burden of teen dating violence for individuals, schools, families, and in neighborhoods. The Dating Matters Capacity Assessment and Planning Tool (DM-CAPT) is an online system that helps local health departments and their school and community partners assess and monitor their capacity for implementing a comprehensive teen dating violence initiative. Dating Matters also provides an online training for educators and other youth-serving professionals who are interested in learning more about preventing teen dating violence.
Dating Matters was implemented in middle schools and neighborhoods across Chicago, Illinois; Baltimore, Maryland; Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; and Oakland, California as part of an ongoing CDC demonstration project. For more information about each of these communities, view the Dating Matters grantee profiles. Dating Matters is expected to be available to other communities interested in preventing teen dating violence by early 2018.