Public Policy

Teen/Youth Dating Violence

Teens and youth are particularly vulnerable to violence in their relationships. In fact, women and girls age 16 to 24 experience the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence. Nearly half of teen girls age 15 to 18 who have been in a relationship say that they have been a victim of verbal, physical, or sexual abuse by a boyfriend. And, in many cases, the abuse starts earlier. A recent study found that one in five children age 11 to 14 say their friends are victims of dating violence and two in five children age 11 and 12 report that their friends are victims of verbal abuse in relationships. Teens who are victimized by a dating partner are more likely to smoke, binge drink, use drugs, and have eating disorders.

Congress recognized the importance of addressing dating violence when it reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 2005. Included in VAWA were several new programs specifically targeted toward youth victims of violence. These programs provide specialized advocacy, prevention, mental health and legal services for youth, support for school policies and personnel training to address violence, and a coordinated response from courts and service providers to help achieve justice for youth victims and accountability for perpetrators.

In February 2008, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced a new, four-year initiative designed to stop violence among the next generation. Working with the Family Violence Prevention Fund, which it named as its National Program Office for the project, the Foundation will spend $14.625 million over the next four years to prevent teen dating and sexual violence and promote activities that build healthy and safe relationships among youth age 10 to 14. The Building Healthy Teen Relationships Initiative will identify effective ways to encourage older teens, parents and adult mentors to implement innovative strategies, change social norms, and engage communities in stopping this violence.

Follow the links for more information on teen dating violence: