Abuse in a dating relationship can be confusing and frightening at any age.But for teenagers, this abuse can be even more difficult.
Crime prevention and domestic violence prevention specialists, parents, teachers, and community organizations can all help identify dating violence and support victims.The STAR (Southside Teens About Respect) Program, part of the Metropolitan Family Services in Chicago, IL, is a comprehensive, community-based approach that works to reduce teen dating violence by increasing junior high school students' knowledge of its causes and solutions, changing attitudes that support relationship violence, and promoting peer leadership and activism.Teen dating violence can be prevented, especially when there is a focus on reducing risk factors as well as fostering protective factors, and when teens are empowered through family, friends, and others (including role models such as teachers, coaches, mentors, and youth group leaders) to lead healthy lives and establish healthy relationships.It is important to create spaces, such as school communities, where the behavioral norms are not tolerant of abuse in dating relationships.Unfortunately, teen dating violence—the type of intimate partner violence that occurs between two young people who are, or who were once in, an intimate relationship—is a serious problem in the United States.
A national survey found that ten percent of teens, female and male, had been the victims of physical dating violence within the past year and can increase the risk of physical injury, poor academic performance, binge drinking, suicide attempts, unhealthy sexual behaviors, substance abuse, negative body image and self-esteem, and violence in future relationships.
Physical abuse may involve pushing, slapping, hitting, pulling hair, threatening with a weapon, and sexual assault including rape.
Teen dating violence can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation.
Even if they recognize the abuse, they may hesitate to report it for fear of retaliation or embarrassment.
Possessiveness, controlling behavior, and verbal put-downs are common forms of verbal abuse.
The curriculum focuses on power and control issues, emphasizing the importance of saying no and taking no for an answer.