The domestic violence field is learning new things all the time. One area that’s increased in awareness is dating violence, especially among high school and college students. February has been designated as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month to help boost that effort.
So, how serious is dating violence for high schoolers?
- Nearly 21% of female high school students and 13.4% of male high school students report being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
- Almost 1.5 million high school students in the United States are physically abused by dating partners every year.
- A 2013 study of 10th graders found that 35% had either been physically or verbally abused, while 31% were perpetrators of physical or verbal abuse.
- 10% of teenage students in dating relationships were coerced into sexual intercourse during the previous year.
- 25% of teens in relationships were victims of cyber dating abuse, according to one study. Female were twice as likely to be victims as males.
- 57% of teens know someone who has been physically, sexually, or verbally abusive in a dating relationship.
- Only 33% of teenage dating abuse victims ever told anyone about it.
- Half of youth reporting dating violence and rape also reported attempting suicide. This is compared to 12.5% of non-abused girls and 5.4% of non-abused boys.
Sadly, the statistics from college campuses are worse.
- 43% of dating college women reported experiencing violent or abusive behaviors from their partner.
- Over 13% of college women report they have been stalked, and of those cases, 42% were stalked by a boyfriend or ex-boyfriend.
- 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted during their college tenure.
You may have noticed a trend in these statistics — the prevalence of young women experiencing domestic violence. And it’s true — women aged 16-24 experience domestic violence at the highest rate of any age group, at nearly 3 times the national average.
Why does dating violence matter?
It’s important to acknowledge that domestic violence occurs in dating relationships as well as marriages. The rate of marriage has declined steeply over the last fifty years. People, particularly young people, are dating longer than in previous generations. As people get married later in life, dating violence will continue to rise — and as you’ve just learned, dating violence is already a serious problem in the United States.
How can you help?
Given the prevalence of domestic violence within these dating relationships and a shift in the structure of relationships today, communities must work together to ensure that victims of dating violence have access to resources and increase in legal protections.
One of the most effective ways to help protect young adults from dating violence is to contact your Members of Congress. Ask them to:
- Introduce, co-sponsor, and vote in favor of legislation establishing and funding classroom-based programs to educate middle and high school students about healthy relationships, domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.
- Support legislation providing additional funding for local program initiatives that provide counseling services to youth and children who are abused by dating partners and/or witness domestic violence.
- Fund college campus programs aimed at increasing evidence-based domestic and sexual violence education, prevention, and intervention.
- Increase funding for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs.
You can also help raise awareness where teenagers spend most of their time — in schools. Encourage local schools and youth programs to train teachers, school counselors and athletic coaches on how to recognize children and teens who are victims of intimate partner violence. Provide educators with resources and prepare them to intervene in domestic violence, dating violence and and stalking situations.
What are you doing in your communities and activism to promote awareness of teen dating violence? Share it with us in the comments below!