Wednesday, February 12, 2014

National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

By Julie Nauman, VCGCB Executive Officer

It can be hard to relate to statistics; after all, they are just numbers without a face, right? But what happens when that next statistic is your best friend? Your teammate? Your little sister? The closer it hits to home, the easier it is to see that even one victim is too many.
  • Every year, almost 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a boyfriend or girlfriend.1
  • That’s one in ten high school students who has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a partner.2
  • Females are disproportionately affected, with one in four high school girls a victim of physical abuse in their relationships.3
  • When including emotional and verbal injury, the rate of dating abuse jumps to one in three teenagers.4

The prevalence of teen dating violence is inexcusable, but the good news about bad statistics is that YOU can change them. Dating violence is not usually a one-time incident, but a pattern of destructive behaviors used to control another person. In that sense, putting an end to teen dating violence is a matter of spotting healthy versus unhealthy relationships, looking out for your peers, and building a culture of respect where abuse is unacceptable.

Only 33% of teens who were in an abusive relationship ever told anyone about the abuse, 5 and 81% of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue.6 It’s time to change these attitudes in our schools and communities. As a mother, the thought of any child being hurt by, or inflicting pain on another, is infuriating. We—parents, teachers, coaches, mentors—need to speak out against teen dating violence in order to stop the abuse before it begins. We have a shared responsibility to model healthy relationships founded in respect and equality; to teach our children that love and abuse cannot exist simultaneously and that violence doesn't equal strength. This February, make your voice heard during National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

If you or someone you know has a question about a relationship, visit or text “loveis” to 22522. For additional resources, visit

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Physical Dating Violence Among High School Students—United States, 2003,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, May 19, 2006, Vol. 55, No. 19.

2. Grunbaum JA, Kann L, Kinchen S, et al. 2004. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2003. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 53(SS02); 1-96. Available at

3. Schoen, C. et al., The Commonwealth Fund Survey for the Health of Adolescent Girls, November 1997.

4. Davis, Antoinette, MPH. 2008. Interpersonal and Physical Dating Violence among Teens. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency Focus. Available at

5. Liz Claiborne Inc., conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, (February 2005).

6. “Women’s Health,” June/July 2004, Family Violence Prevention Fund and Advocates for Youth,

Julie Nauman is the Executive Officer for the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGCB). VCGCB provides compensation for victims of violent crime and helps to resolve claims against the State.