Teen Dating Violence: A Guide for Parents & Caregivers
What is teen dating violence and how common is it?
Teen dating violence can include physical, emotional, and sexual violence, as well as stalking. Dating violence can take place in person, online, or through technology.
“Adolescents in abusive relationships often carry these unhealthy patterns of violence into future relationships. Indeed, children who are victimized or witness violence frequently bring this experience with them to the playground, the classroom, later into teen relationships and, ultimately, they can end up the victims and perpetrators of adult intimate partner violence.” — Youth.gov
How common is teen dating violence?
According to the Kentucky Youth Risk Behavior 2021 survey, over 13% of high school students report experiencing sexual dating violence, and 8.4% report experiencing physical dating violence.
What are the warning signs of teen dating violence?
- Extreme jealousy or possessiveness from your child’s partner.
- Constant emails, texts, or calls from their partner; wanting to know teen’s location
- Decreased interest in extracurricular activities or other interests.
- Isolation from other friends and family.
- Changes in appearance including clothes, makeup, or hairstyle.
What are signs of healthy relationships for teens?
- Mutual respect
- Partners trust each other
- Partners are honest
- Partners are willing to compromise, but maintain individuality
- Partners can problem-solve together
What can parents do to help their teen if they are in an unhealthy relationship?
- Believe your child, even if what they tell you is hard to hear.
- Let your child know that you’re concerned for their safety by centering their experience in your conversation.
- Remind them that they deserve to be treated with respect and that abuse is not their fault.
- Discuss the abusive behaviors you observe, not your feelings about the people involved.
- Resist the urge to give them ultimatums or punish them for making decisions about their abusive relationship that you dislike.
- Remember that all adults in Kentucky are mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect. If you suspect abuse or neglect by a parent, caregiver, or person of authority, report to DCBS Centralized Intake or local law enforcement. Learn more.
How can parents to help prevent teen dating violence and promote healthy relationships?
- Teach safe and healthy relationships skills, including managing emotions in a healthy way.
- Discuss boundaries with your teen. Help them establish their own boundaries for relationships.
- Talk to your teen about examples of healthy and unhealthy relationships in their life. Use examples from TV shows, movies, music lyrics, or community events.
- Learn about teen development and know what is considered normal for your teen’s age.
- Talk to your teen about recognizing signs of unhealthy relationships among their peers.
Visit Youth.gov to learn more about teen dating violence and how to help your teen.
At Lotus, we know that prevention is possible. Using an evidence-based approach to violence prevention, Lotus is working to inform, educate, and engage people to take action and create healthier communities that are committed to ending child abuse and sexual violence. Our prevention educators work in schools and communities to educate and empower youth, college students, school staff and administration, parents and caregivers, and community members to respond to, and prevent, child abuse and sexual violence. Learn more about our prevention education programs.