Teen Dating Violence is a pattern of abuse used by one person in a current or past dating relationship to exert power and control over another when one or both of the partners is a teenager. The nature of abuse can be physical, emotional or sexual.
What is Teen Dating Violence?
Abuse can include:
- Sexual Harassment
- Social Sabotage
- Threats and/or Acts of physical or sexual abuse
- Use of electronic devices such as cell phones and computers to abuse, harass, or stalk someone
In Teen Dating Violence relationships, there are Three Important Roles:
- The Abuser – A person who physically, sexually, verbally or emotionally hurts a dating partner.
- The Victim – A person who is hurt physically, sexually, verbally or emotionally by a dating partner.
- The Bystander – A person who is aware that someone is being abused in a dating relationship. The bystander may become aware of the abuse through witnessing it directly or through second-hand information.
If you observe that someone you know may be a victim of Teen Dating Violence, DO:
- Listen to what the person is saying with an open mind.
- Find out what the person would like to do about the relationship and support them regardless of what you would do in a similar situation.
- Understand that the person may be confused about their feelings and about what to do. They may change their mind, maybe even a few times.
- Watch your body language and respect the person’s right to privacy and personal space.
- Let them know that you will be there for them if they ever need you.
- Help the person become informed of available resources.
- Decide how you should proceed with informing any other persons, especially if you feel the person’s safety may be in danger.
- Judge the person.
- Give advice. Let the person make their own decisions, while discussing all of the choices available to them.
- Ask unnecessary questions; if a victim is not ready to talk about everything yet they may shut down if they feel pressured.
- Confront the person’s abusive partner about the abuse – this could put you and the person you are concerned about at risk.
- Set clear policies about reporting dating abuse or violence of any kind, whether it occurs on campus or not, as required in Florida Statute 1006.148.
- Actively create a school environment where respect, responsibility and safety are promoted.
- Take seriously and proactively enforce protection orders and other court orders due to dating abuse.
- Train staff to recognize signs of dating abuse and intervene appropriately – Refuge House is happy to assist in this process.
- Teach an evidenced-based and effective curriculum about dating abuse.
- Host school-wide dating abuse campaigns involving students that also include them in the responsibility of planning and organizing the event.
- Educate parents about the issue.
- Students may not feel comfortable asking for resources directly so identify a safe place for students to access information on local community resources.
Curriculum Resources for Teachers
- Get Smart – Get Help – Get Safe: Preventing, Assessing, and Intervening in Teenage Dating Abuse
A Training for Specialized Instructional Support Personnel
- Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence – Educators
- For posters or brochures regarding teen dating violence contact: Prevention@fcadv.org
- Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence Youth Activist Prevention Toolkit
- Break the Cycle
- I Am Courageous
- Prevent IPV
- Centers for Disease Control: Teen Dating Violence
- National Online Center on Violence Against Women
- Florida Domestic Violence Resources – An Abuse, Rape and Domestic Violence Aid and Resource Collection
- Florida Certified Domestic Violence Centers
- National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence: Teen Power and Control Wheel (PDF)