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Teen dating violence

You can make a difference. Start the conversation with your adolescent and teen patients about recognizing abuse and how to build healthy relationships.

Teen dating violence (TDV) is defined by Break the Cycle as a pattern of abusive behaviors to exert power and control over a dating partner. Dating violence can escalate over time and become more dangerous to the target.

In a healthy relationship, each partner is respectful to the other, whether in person, on the phone, or online.

Some alarming facts:

  • Each year, approximately one in four adolescents reports verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
  • Approximately one in five adolescents reports being a target of emotional abuse.
  • Approximately one in five high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
  • Dating violence is reported by 54 percent of high school students.
  • One in three teens reports knowing a friend or peer who has been physically hurt by his or her partner through violent actions, which included hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, and/or choking.
  • Abuse now happens via technology — insulting a partner on social media, sending threatening text messages, or monitoring where a partner is are all part of dating abuse.
this is important

This is critical: Start the conversation!

Discussing safety and asking targeted questions can identify TDV exposure:

  • Discuss confidentiality and the limitation of confidentiality during routine medical exams to increase adolescents’ confidence in your ability to help and protect their confidentiality.
  • Ask the patient to tell you about experiences with physical violence and feelings of fear in past and current relationships.
  • Acknowledge the pervasive nature of TDV.
  • Offer prevention and intervention information, regardless of a positive or negative screen.
  • Have TDV information posters, brochures and cards with information about TDV, risks, prevention and intervention programs placed throughout your office.
  • Educate your staff about local and national organizations dedicated to providing supportive care for adolescents experiencing TDV.

More information and resources for your office: