Understand and Prevent Teen Dating Violence

February 9, 2012 Kellie Jo Holly

This month is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Why do teens get their own month? The signs and symptoms of teen dating abuse are the same as domestic abuse, so why can't the kids just read our grown-up sites? They've always gotta be so hard-headed!

According to, although the signs and symptoms may be the same, teens are very different mentally and emotionally from us know-it-all adults. For one, teenagers don't want to rely on us big people their information and frequently choose to confide in friends over parents. (Remember those days? How many of you still choose friends over mom?)

Additionally, as a teenager living in mom and dad's house, young people do not have the freedom to move away from their abuser. Most teens do not have the luxury to avoid contact with their abuser because they attend school with them and must see him/her every day.

There are creative ways to avoid contact with a teen abuser, but most of the best solutions include the victim of abuse telling a grown-up. As an adult I felt embarrassed of my abusive situation, and if I topped that off with the powerful teenage urge to "figure it out myself" then I can only imagine the reluctance I would feel to telling my co-workers, boss, guidance counselor, teachers, neighbors, and parents!

Another reason teen dating abuse is different from adult violence is that teens are just getting their feet wet when it comes to relationships. They are not very experienced and the examples they see at home and in our culture are not always healthy. Inexperience combined with lack of knowledge about what constitutes a healthy relationship is a dire combination that binds teens within abusive relationships.

Here is where you come in to the picture. I know you could be a victim of domestic abuse (because you've found this blog), but I challenge you to step out from behind the curtain and reach out to your own kids, the children you teach, the young adults at church or wherever you find them.

Let them know that you're available to talk should they need a sounding board; tell them you know what it's like first-hand to be scared and in love at the same time. Let them know it is an emotional red-flag to feel that way and encourage them to open up to trusted adults in addition to their friends.

If you do not know any teenagers personally, you could encourage your local high school to implement a safe dating awareness program or use any one of the suggestions from Break the Cycle's website.

Love Is Respect and Break the Cycle focus on educating and supporting teenagers through a massive public outreach program incorporating speaking events, rallies, public service announcements, websites, chat, text, and telephone hotlines. If you're a parent and want to be the one in whom your son or daughter confides, don't let wishful thinking override probability. Show them the websites, let them read the information and gather the tools to recognize abuse for themselves, and then pay attention.

Sometimes opening the door and waiting for your teen to walk through is the best way to help them. But watch out for danger signs and don't hesitate to step in if your son or daughter is in danger.

Find some of the best advice for parents at's page, Help Your Child.

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2012, February 9). Understand and Prevent Teen Dating Violence, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

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