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Quick Guide: Teen Dating Violence

The domestic violence field is learning new things all the time. One area that’s increased in awareness is dating violence, especially among high school and college students. February has been designated as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month to help boost that effort.

So, how serious is dating violence for high schoolers?

Sadly, the statistics from college campuses are worse.

You may have noticed a trend in these statistics -- the prevalence of young women experiencing domestic violence. And it’s true -- women aged 16-24 experience domestic violence at the highest rate of any age group, at nearly 3 times the national average.

Why does dating violence matter?

It’s important to acknowledge that domestic violence occurs in dating relationships as well as marriages. The rate of marriage has declined steeply over the last fifty years. People, particularly young people, are dating longer than in previous generations. As people get married later in life, dating violence will continue to rise -- and as you’ve just  learned, dating violence is already a serious problem in the United States.

How can you help?

Given the prevalence of domestic violence within these dating relationships and a shift in the structure of relationships today, communities must work together to ensure that victims of dating violence have access to resources and increase in legal protections.

One of the most effective ways to help protect young adults from dating violence is to contact your Members of Congress. Ask them to:

  • Introduce, co-sponsor, and vote in favor of legislation establishing and funding classroom-based programs to educate middle and high school students about healthy relationships, domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.
  • Support legislation providing additional funding for local program initiatives that provide counseling services to youth and children who are abused by dating partners and/or witness domestic violence.
  • Fund college campus programs aimed at increasing evidence-based domestic and sexual violence education, prevention, and intervention.
  • Increase funding for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs.

You can also help raise awareness where teenagers spend most of their time -- in schools. Encourage local schools and youth programs to train teachers, school counselors and athletic coaches on how to recognize children and teens who are victims of intimate partner violence. Provide educators with resources and prepare them to intervene in domestic violence, dating violence and and stalking situations.

What are you doing in your communities and activism to promote awareness of teen dating violence? Share it with us in the comments below!

Posted by Lynn Brewer-Muse at 3:27 AM
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