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February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

teen dating violence, TDV, dating violence

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Community Wellness

Teen dating violence (TDV) is a type of intimate partner violence. It occurs between two people in a close relationship.

TDV includes four types of behavior:

  • Physical violence is when a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, or using another type of physical force.
  • Sexual violence is forcing or attempting to force a partner to take part in a sex act, sexual touching, or a non-physical sexual event (e.g., sexting) when the partner does not or cannot consent.
  • Psychological aggression is the use of verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm another person mentally or emotionally and/or exert control over another person.
  • Stalking is a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact by a partner that causes fear or concern for one’s own safety or the safety of someone close to the victim.

Teen dating violence also referred to as, “dating violence”, can take place in person or electronically, such as repeated texting or posting sexual pictures of a partner online without consent. 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—but these behaviors can become abusive and develop into serious forms of violence. However, many teens do not report unhealthy behaviors because they are afraid to tell family and friends.

How big is the problem?

TDV is common.  Don’t think it doesn’t happen locally! It affects youth in Mercer County each year. Data from CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicates:

  • Nearly 32% of Hazen High School students reported physical dating violence (i.e. hit, slapped, slammed into something or injured with an object or weapon on purpose) one or more times during the previous 12 months. That’s up 25% from the 2009 survey.
  • Similarly, nearly 26% of Beulah High School students reported physical dating violence during the previous 12 months. Up nearly 20% since 2009.

What are the consequences?

Unhealthy, abusive, or violent relationships can have severe consequences and short-and long-term negative effects on a developing teen. For example, youth who are victims of TDV are more likely to:

  • Experience symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Engage in unhealthy behaviors, like using tobacco, drugs, and alcohol
  • Exhibit antisocial behaviors, like lying, theft, bullying or hitting
  • Think about suicide

Violence in an adolescent relationship sets the stage for problems in future relationships, including intimate partner violence and sexual violence perpetration and/or victimization throughout life. For example, youth who are victims of dating violence in high school are at higher risk for victimization during college.

How can we stop teen dating violence before it starts?

Supporting the development of healthy, respectful, and nonviolent relationships has the potential to reduce the occurrence of TDV and prevent its harmful and long-lasting effects on individuals, their families, and the communities where they live. During the pre-teen and teen years, it is critical for youth to begin learning the skills needed to create and maintain healthy relationships. These skills include things like how to manage feelings and how to communicate in a healthy way.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/. Preventing Teen Dating Violence

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