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Educate. Empower. Prevent.
Written by: Leslie Minton, Children's Program Coordinator

What is Teen Dating Violence

Teen dating violence — also called intimate relationship violence— includes physical, psychological or sexual abuse; harassment; or stalking of any person ages 12 to 18 in the context of a past or present romantic or consensual relationship.

Teen Dating Statistics
72% of 13 and 14-year-olds are “dating.”
1 in 11 female and 1 in 15 male high school students report having experienced physical dating violence in the last year.

About 1 in 3 young people will be in an abusive relationship.


Smith Cotton has 1,449 students, and according to current statistics 483 of those students will be in an abusive relationship. This year alone 53 female students and 39 male students will be physically attacked by the person they are dating. This number would increase if we included those who will experience verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse by their partner.

Lack of Education
Youth entering into the world of dating are at a disadvantage when it comes to positive modeling. The romantic relationships portrayed on the big screen are oftentimes toxic. For example, Twilight endorses a message that true love is dangerous, as Bella Swan falls in love with a vampire who admits he thinks about killing her as often as he thinks about kissing her. Suicide Squad teaches young people that if you really love someone you stay with them no matter what. This notion flooded Facebook as memes featured Harley Quinn and the Joker declaring their loyalty to each other EVEN if it killed them. These prominent messages create confusion about what is healthy and unhealthy. But when paired with the unhealthy relationships modeled by some trusted adults, the consequences for teens can be disastrous.  Many young people think being cussed at and belittled by a partner during a fight is normal when this should be seen as a red flag.  
As of 2014 only 22 of the 50 states had legislation that required some form of education on teen dating violence for high school students. Prevention and awareness is essential in helping our youth navigate first relationships and recognize the warning signs. They do not yet have the power to choose safety if they do not know what unsafe looks like. CASA is trying to empower our youth to have healthy relationships and create healthy habits by providing education. We have developed a 5 course class that teaches what teen dating violence is, what consent is, what dating violence looks like on social media, what boundaries are, and how teen dating violence can effect their future.