One in 3 teens in the U.S. will experience physical, sexual or emotional abuse by someone they’re in a relationship with and 1.5 million teenagers report being in an abusive relationship each year. And 43 percent of dating college women report experiencing abusive dating behaviors.
If those statistics seem staggering, it’s because they are. Dating violence is not about love — it is about power and control. We have a problem that is not being appropriately addressed and the longer it continues, the more damage it is going to do to millions of teenagers each year.
Teen dating violence — also called intimate relationship violence or intimate partner violence among adolescents or adolescent relationship abuse — includes physical, psychological or sexual abuse; harassment; or stalking of any person ages 12 to 18 in the context of a past or present romantic or consensual relationship.
According to LoveIsRespect.org, a website dedicated to helping and educating teens about teen dating violence, “only 33 percent of teens who were in a violent relationship ever told anyone about the abuse.”
And that is why February has become National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Since 2006, February has been observed as an important time to raise awareness about the serious issue of dating violence in high schools, colleges and communities across the nation.
What you can do to help bring awareness to teen dating violence
Respect Week. Respect Week (Feb. 13-17) is a special way for young people to raise awareness about healthy relationships and dating abuse during Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month in February. Check out this Respect Week guide for ideas on how to raise awareness in your school.
Wear Orange Day. Feb. 14, 2017, is Wear Orange Day, a national day of awareness on which we encourage everyone to wear orange in honor of Teen DV Month. You can wear orange shirts, nail polish, ribbons, jewelry, shoes or anything else you can think of! Tell people why you are wearing orange and post pictures and updates on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtags #Orange4Love and #RespectWeek2017.
Know the facts. The CDC has a fact sheet that explains warning signs as well as strategies to help prevent teen dating violence.
Talk with your kids about dating violence. One of the most important things that parents can do is listen to what our kids are telling us. Try to make most communication constructive rather than critical and have frank, open and nonjudgmental conversations when it comes to sex, dating and domestic violence. It sure isn’t easy, but it’s incredibly important.