Teen Dating Violence Prevention

February is National Teen Dating Violence Prevention Month. The Chicago Department of Public Health Office of Violence Prevention is working to raise awareness about Teen Dating Violence (TDV). More than 900,000 children and youth call Chicago home. Violence claimed more than 500 lives in 2008 and nearly half of the victims were young people between the ages of 10 and 25.

In as recent as 2010, teen dating violence (TDV) was the cover story in Chicago when a male teen murdered his girlfriend and her mother and sister. Relationships that occur in the teen years may affect dating relationships later in life. The lessons teens learn today about respect, healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, and what is right or wrong may carry over into future relationships. Therefore it is important that teens recognize and understand what constitutes a healthy relationship.

Teen Dating Violence (TDV) is similar to adult domestic violence in that:

  • it affects people from all socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds
  • both tend to show patterns of repeated violence which escalate over time
  • both tend to display violent and abusive behavior interchanged with apologies and promises to change
  • both tend to show increased danger for the victim when trying to terminate the abusive relationship

What You Should Know

  • Teen dating violence can happen to both girls and boys, no matter your social or economic status, your race, or whether or you're straight or gay. 
  • Risk factors for teen dating violence include individual, peer, partner, parent, and neighborhood influences.
  • Perpetrating dating violence in adolescence increases the risk of perpetrating violence toward a partner in adulthood.
  • Exposure to dating violence significantly affects a range of mental and physical health problems.
  • LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered) teen couples are just as likely as heterosexual couples to be involved in dating violence.
  • The 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) found that 18.5% of high school students in Chicago surveyed were victims of TDV in the previous year. This figure is nearly twice the rate of students nationwide.
  • Teen dating violence most often takes place in the home of one of the partners.

What You Can  Say to a Teen Who Needs Help

  • “I care about what happens to you. I love you and I want to help.”
  • “It is the abuser who has a problem, not you. It is not your responsibility to help this person change.”
  • “The abuse is not your fault. You are not to blame, no matter how guilty the person doing this to you is trying to make you feel. Your partner should not be doing this to you.”
  • “If you feel afraid, it may be abuse. Sometimes people behave in ways that are scary and make you feel threatened – even without using physical violence. Listen to your gut.”
  • “It is important to talk about this. If you don’t want to talk with me, find someone you trust and talk with that person.  You can also talk to someone at a hotline who can help you sort things out.”

How Teens Can Date Safely

  • Date people you know and trust
  • Be extra careful about meeting people online
  • Talk to your parents about who you will be dating and where
  • Know your limits and communicate them
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol
  • Know the warning signs of dating violence and relationship abuse

Dating violence is extremely common among teens. Even if a partner is charming and sweet at first, look out for signs of abusive relationships, such as:

  • isolating you from friends and family
  • having angry outbursts
  • blaming others for problems
  • threatening to hurt you during arguments
  • getting extremely jealous for no reason
  • acting cruel toward animals or children
  • trying to control you by belittling your values or ideas.


If these warning signs sound like someone you're dating, take a step back and reevaluate the relationship. If you need help figuring out what to do, talk to a school guidance counselor, social worker, teacher, pastor or the City of Chicago Domestic Violence Helpline at 877.863.6338. You are not alone!

 

Where Can You Go for More Information

 Additional Information

The Chicago Department of Public Health Office of Violence Prevention is working to raise awareness about Teen Dating Violence (TDV). To learn how, call 312.745.0381.

 I Want To