Preventing Teen Dating Violence

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Teen dating violence (TDV), also referred to as “dating violence”, affects millions of teens in the U.S. each year. It occurs between two people in a close relationship and includes:

  • Physical violence
    • Examples: Hitting, kicking, pushing
  • Sexual violence
    • Examples: Forcing a partner to take part in a sex act
  • Psychological abuse
    • Examples: Name-calling, insulting, threatening
  • Stalking
    • Examples: Repeated unwanted or threatening phone calls or messages, showing up unwanted

TDV can happen in person or electronically including repeated texting or posting sexual pictures of a partner online without their permission.

Facts about Teen Dating Violence

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.

  • Nearly 1 in 11 female and about 1 in 15 male high school students report having experienced physical dating violence in the last year
  • About 1 in 9 female and 1 in 36 male high school students report having experienced sexual dating violence in the last year

Unhealthy or violent relationships can have severe short and long-term 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
  • Think about suicide
Teen Dating Violence is Preventable

Supporting the development of healthy, respectful, and nonviolent relationships can help reduce the occurrence of TDV and prevent its harmful effects. During the pre-teen and teen years, it is important 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.

CDC developed Dating Matters®: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships to stop teen dating violence before it starts. It focuses on teaching 11-14-year-olds healthy relationships skills and includes sections for kids, parents, schools, and neighborhoods. Visit the Dating Matters website to learn more!

Teen Dating Violence Prevention Resources

Dating Matters®: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships
Dating Matters is a teen dating violence prevention model developed by CDC to stop teen dating violence before it starts.

Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH)
CDC’s DASH works to promote environments where youth can gain fundamental health knowledge and skills, establish healthy behaviors for a lifetime, and connect to health services.

Teen Dating Violence Infographic
The infographic highlights the importance of healthy relationships throughout life.

Youth.gov
Youth.gov helps users create, maintain, and strengthen effective youth programs.

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Page last reviewed: March 9, 2020