Teen Dating Violence Prevention
Written by: Ariana Drew, LMHC Associate Residential Director of Clinical Services
It is estimated that approximately 1.5 million high school students in the U.S experience physical abuse from a dating partner, and one in three teens will experience physical, sexual or emotional abuse from a dating partner before they become adults.
Children and teens in foster care are twice as likely to become victims of dating violence due to traumatic childhood experiences that often include exposure to domestic violence within their families. Being exposed to domestic violence at home increases the likelihood that youth will fall into similar patterns of relationships. Additionally, teens that have experienced abusive relationships are at increased risk for suicide and dropping out of school.
Children and teens that have grown up in abusive homes, often have difficulty distinguishing between healthy, loving relationships and abusive relationships rooted in violence and manipulation. Frequently, these abusive behaviors from loved ones become how teens have personally defined love and commitment.
At the Children’s Home Network, we know we can change this misconception of what love looks like. Two of our programs, Kids Village and Adolescents In Motherhood (AIM), coach both individually and through peer support to promote positive boundaries, educate teens about healthy relationships and the warning signs of dating violence and abuse.
We work with community partners to provide education and support in order to help teens remain safe and begin to learn new patterns of behavior. It is our hope that no child in our care will become a victim of teen dating violence, and that they will learn the foundations of healthy relationships to carry them through adulthood.
The Children’s Home Network wants you to know that there’s a lot we can do as a community to prevent teen dating violence and abuse.
As a community and caregivers, one of the most important things we can do is keep the lines of communication open. Each of us can take small steps to make a difference:
· Be a role model – treat your kids and others with respect (they learn by watching us).
· Start talking to your children about healthy relationships early – before they start dating.
· Get involved with efforts to prevent dating violence at your teen’s school.
· If you are worried about your teen, call the Love Is Respect helpline at 1-866-331-9474 or text “LoveIs” to 22522.