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Teen Dating Violence Prevention Resources - 2021 Update

Two teens talking in person while sitting on their phones as if they are texting

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM). The themes for 2021 include love is respect’s “Know Your Worth” campaign, and the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence’s (NRCDV) campaign “#1Thing.” Everyone is deserving of a healthy relationship, the Know Your Worth campaign is about learning about healthy relationships and self-empowerment. The #1Thing campaign is designed to meet people where they are by encouraging them to do one thing towards ending domestic violence. Collectively, #1Things can lead to social transformation.

Teen dating violence includes physical, emotional, sexual, or digital abuse in a current dating relationship or by a former dating partner. Young people experience violence at alarming rates. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey:

  • Over 71% of women and over 55% of men first experienced intimate partner violence (sexual or physical violence, and/or stalking) under the age of 25.
  • One in four women first experienced intimate partner violence prior to the age of 18.
  • Over 80% of women and over 70% of male rape victims experienced their first completed or attempted rape under the age of 25.
  • Sexual violence is usually committed by someone the survivor knows. Over 28% of girls who experienced sexual violence under the age of 18 were raped by a current or former intimate partner.
  • Youth who experience sexual violence as children or teens are more likely to experience sexual violence in adulthood. Thirty-five percent of women who were raped as minors were also raped as adults, compared to 10% of women raped as an adult who were not raped as minors.

Experiencing violence in youth can have long-lasting impacts, making it all the more critical to prevent violence before it occurs. By promoting social norms that protect against violence (such as bystander programs and engaging men and boys) and supporting survivors, we can lessen the impact of sexual violence and prevent future victimization.

A healthy relationship requires open communication, safety, trust, and respect. Teaching children and young people about healthy relationships and consent should start early with age-appropriate messages through childhood and teen years. TDVAM is an opportunity to promote healthy relationships and consent, which are key to preventing sexual violence. Young people learn about relationships from those around them, so it is important to model healthy relationships and ask for consent while in person and online. Advocates can reinforce what consent looks like by educating parents, caregivers, and others on how to practice everyday consent and about healthy relationships. Advocates can also practice this by respecting a young person’s wishes or choices when working with them.

Get engaged! Respect Week is February 8-12. Advocates and others working with youth can use the resources below to help promote healthy relationships and consent with the young people they work with.

Resources for youth, advocates, and preventionists:


  • Love is Respect.org: A project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, they are a resource to empower youth to prevent and end dating abuse.
  • That’s Not Cool.com: Helps young people draw a “digital line” about what is and what is not okay in their relationships

Resources for parents and caregivers:

Learning about healthy relationships and consent starts young. Parents can use the following resources to learn how to talk to their children and teens about healthy relationships and consent:

  • Safe Secure Kids: This website provides free resources to help parents and caregivers prevent sexual abuse and harassment by communicating with children about respect and consent.
  • I Ask How to Teach Consent Early: This postcard contains tips for parents on how to teach and model consent
  • Parent Tip Sheet: How Do I Help My Child?: This card provides tips for parents on how to help a child in an unhealthy relationship
  • Healthy Communications with Kids: This resource shares information for parents about how to incorporate consent in everyday interactions with children.
  • Parents Postcard: This postcard provides information for parents about teaching children and teens age-appropriate lessons about consent and healthy relationships




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Frank Sterle Jr.
Tue, 02/16/2021

Violence against girls and women is abhorrent — there's no question about that.

But there remains a mentality out there, albeit perhaps subconsciously held: Men can take care of themselves against sexual perpetrators, and boys are basically little men. And they often enough end up incarcerated for various (usually serious) crimes.

I've noticed over many years of (mostly Canadian) news-media consumption that when the victims are girls their gender is readily reported as such; however, when they're boys, they're usually referred to gender-neutrally as children. It’s as though, as a news product made to sell the best, the child victims being female is somehow more shocking than if male.

I’ve even heard and read news-media references to a 19-year-old female victim as a ‘girl’, while (in an unrelated case) a 17 year old male perpetrator was described as a ‘man’.

Also, our various news, entertainment and social media need to consistently tell boys, implicitly and explicitly, they don't need to be aggressive, the stereotypical 'real man', nor that they should conform to potential mates' attraction to the strong, silent type.

I wonder whether the above may help explain why the book Childhood Disrupted was only able to include one man among its six interviewed adult subjects, there presumably being such a small pool of ACE-traumatized men willing to come forward for the book? Could it be evidence of a continuing subtle societal take-it-like-a-man mindset?