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February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

Teenage boy and girl eating lunchDating violence can happen to any teen in a romantic, dating, or sexual relationship, anytime, anywhere. But it doesn't have to happen at all. Learn how to prevent teen dating violence and to promote healthy relationships with CDC's online resources.

Did you know that in a recent national survey, 1 in 10 teens reported being hit or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend at least once in the 12 months prior to the survey? And nearly half of all teens in relationships say they know friends who have been verbally abused.

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. However, these behaviors can become abusive and develop into more serious forms of violence. That is why adults need to talk to teens now about the importance of developing healthy, respectful relationships.

Photo: A teen boy and girl

Dating violence can have a negative effect on health throughout life. Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. They may also engage in unhealthy behaviors such as using tobacco, drugs, and alcohol. Teens who are victims in high school are at higher risk for victimization during college.

CDC's Division of Violence Prevention is leading the initiative, Dating Matters®: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships. Dating Matters aims to promote respectful, nonviolent dating relationships among youth in high-risk urban communities. The comprehensive approach will build upon current evidence-based practice and experience to reduce the burden of teen dating violence. The initiative will support efforts to implement prevention strategies in schools, with families, and in neighborhoods.

Dating Matters® is currently being implemented in middle schools and neighborhoods across Chicago, Illinois, Baltimore, Maryland, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and Oakland, California. For more information about each of these communities, view the Dating Matters™ grantee profiles.

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