Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. In a recent national survey, nearly 10 percent of high school students reported physical violence and 11 percent reported that they experienced sexual violence from a dating partner in the 12 months before the survey. Teens who are victims in high school are at higher risk for victimization during college and throughout their lifetimes. Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. They might also engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as using tobacco, drugs, and alcohol.
What You Can Do
Teaching healthy relationship skills and changing norms about violence can help prevent teen dating violence. Teens often think some behaviors, such as teasing and name-calling are a “normal” part of a relationship. However, these behaviors can become abusive and develop into more serious forms of violence. Talk to teens now about the importance of developing healthy, respectful relationships.
What CDC Is Doing
CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention is leading the initiative, Dating Matters®: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships. Dating Matters is a comprehensive teen dating violence prevention model that builds upon current evidence-based practice and experience to promote respectful, nonviolent dating relationships among youth. Three components of the Dating Matters comprehensive teen dating violence prevention model are currently available on CDC’s VetoViolence website.
CDC also developed technical packages to help states and communities prioritize efforts to prevent violence before it starts. A technical package is a collection of strategies that represent the best available evidence to prevent or reduce public health problems such as teen dating violence and intimate partner violence.
Teen dating violence can be prevented when teens, families, organizations, and communities work together to implement effective prevention strategies.