Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month
February is considered Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. According to youth.gov (n.d.) an estimated 1 in 10 teens will experience dating violence. It can include stalking, harassment, physical, or sexual abuse (teendvmonth.org, 2021). “Girls are particularly vulnerable to experiencing violence in their relationships and are more likely to suffer long-term behavioral and health consequences, including suicide attempts, eating disorders, and drug use” (youth.gov, n.d.). These experiences can impact an individual throughout their adulthood, which points to the importance of addressing and working through their concerns.
It is significant to recognize the young age and maturity level associated within teenage relationships as it pertains to identifying problems and reporting concerns. According to teendvmonth.org, “the undertaking of a relationship, very often, requires more maturity than most teens have developed. These relationships are more likely to be riddled with problems including communication, jealousy, and selflessness” (teendvmonth.org, 2021).
One of the issues found within addressing violence in relationships is the lack of reporting due to fear. Teens may feel that they may face consequences or get in trouble for informing a loved one or a professional. As a result, this may lead to continuation of violence and other concerns with safety. Encouraging teens to speak up and advocate for themselves and others is important and has the potential to save lives and reduce further harm. Additionally, it is recommended to “talk openly about respect, consent, and boundaries. The earlier [teens] are exposed to what healthy relationships look like, the better it is for them” (National Today, 2022)
Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month aims to break the cycle of violence. Providing support and bringing awareness to these issues is extremely important for advocating for victims and preventing further violence. It is also encouraged to become aware of the warning signs that someone may be in a violent relationship. Some warning signs include a partner receiving unrealistic expectations, being limited in their decision making, being controlled, receiving physical marks, receiving excessive jealousy, being verbally abused, having their property destroyed, and more.
As for how to observe this month, it is important to start conversations and bring awareness to teen dating violence. One can utilize social media and use hashtags such as “#TeenDatingViolenceAwarenessMonth, #TeenDVMonth and #LoveIsRespect” to help make a difference. Additionally, one can do their part by encouraging schools, parents, teens, and community-based organizations to prevent this kind of violence (nationaldaycalendar.com, 2022). In terms of parent involvement, it is supportive to talk to children about dangers of teen dating violence as well as teach them about qualities of respect. It is also integral to inform them to stand up for themselves or others if they suspect danger.
As for seeking help and support, one can get involved in attending online webinars, inviting speakers to schools, organizing awareness events, and reading books to provide awareness and knowledge of teen violence (nationaldaycalendar.com, 2022). One can also refer to the “National Dating Abuse Helpline (a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline) at 1-866-331-9474 (TTY: 1-866-331-8453), by texting “loveis” to 77054, or through live chat at loveisrespect.org.” (youth.gov, n.d.).