Do you know what to do if you think a teen in your life is in an abusive relationship?
February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Learning how to spot the signs of an abusive relationship can make a dramatic impact on the lives of teens suffering from dating violence – and could also save lives.
According to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC), teen dating violence includes the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence that may occur within a relationship. In many cases, teens in abusive relationships experience severe psychological conflict which can lead to changes in their behavior. Some warning signs to watch out for include increased levels of aggression, isolation from family and friends, and erratic mood swings. If you suspect a teen is experiencing an abusive relationship or are unsure of the warning signs, the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline will offer immediate and confidential support.
Every year, about one in 10 high school students report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their partner. While anyone can be affected by domestic violence, teens are more likely to be affected by the long-term effects of abuse: depression and anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction, suicidal tendencies, and an increased risk for victimization during college. It can be easy to overlook some behaviors like teasing or name calling as “normal” in a relationship, but these acts can escalate to abuse or more serious forms of violence.
ED, its federal partners, and a growing number of schools nationwide are committed to increasing awareness of teen dating violence by educating the public about healthy relationships. We recognize that the real work of preventing teen dating violence and sexual assault happens at the local level, in schools, in homes, and in community centers across the nation. Schools must clearly communicate that they will not tolerate violence of any kind, will respond to any students who report it, and will hold offenders accountable.
We remain dedicated to vigorously enforcing compliance with Title IX and the Clery Act – laws that make our schools safer. The following resources provide more information to support schools and communities in their efforts to create safe, healthy learning environments and identify, investigate, and remedy sexual assault, domestic violence and teen dating violence:
- Not Alone
- 1 Is 2 Many
- A Fact Sheet for Schools – Teen Dating Violence in the United States
- Sexual Harassment Resources
- Letter from the Education Secretary on Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention
- Get Smart, Get Help, Get Safe
- ED Policy Briefing – Protecting Students from Teen Dating Violence and Sexual Assault
- Office for Civil Rights’ Dear Colleague Letter on Sexual Violence
Jimmy Tang is an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.