Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

The Purpose of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month – February

The repercussions of teen dating violence are impossible to ignore – the issue affects not just youth but their families, schools and communities as well. Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM) brings national focus to the issue of teen dating violence, highlights the need to educate our youth about healthy relationships, raises awareness among those who care for them and provides communities with a critical opportunity to work together to prevent this devastating cycle of abuse.

The History of TDVAM

The Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Initiative was spearheaded by teenagers across the nation who chose to take a stand and put a stop to teen dating violence. In 2005, the importance of addressing teen dating violence was highlighted by its inclusion in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Now supported by dozens of national, state and local organizations, the call to end teen dating violence was formally recognized by Congress in 2006. At that time, both Houses of Congress declared the first full week in February “National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week.”

In 2010, our leaders in Congress dedicated an entire month to teen dating violence awareness and prevention. To celebrate, we are calling upon government representatives and agencies, public officials, advocates, service providers, schools, parents and youth to take part in programs and activities that promote awareness and prevention of teen dating violence.


When teens begin dating, they apply the relationship norms they learned watching those in parental roles. The results in many junior high, high schools and colleges across our nation are chilling.  In June, 2008, Liz Claiborne, Inc., released the results from a Teen Research Unlimited survey it commissioned on dating violence in teens and tweens (those aged 11 to 14).  The survey was conducted online between January 2 and January 18, 2008, with a total of 1,043 tweens, 523 parents, and 626 teens completing the survey.  The results range from disturbing to frightening:

  • More than one in three 11-12 year olds (37%) say they have been in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.
  • Nearly three in four tweens (72%) say boyfriend/girlfriend relationships usually begin at age 14 or younger.
  • 62% of tweens who have been in a relationship say they know friends who have been verbally abused (called stupid, worthless, ugly, etc) by a boyfriend/girlfriend.
  • Two in five (41%) tweens who have been in a relationship know friends who have been called names, put down, or insulted via cellphone, IM, social networking sites (such as MySpace and Facebook), etc.
  • One in five 13-14 year olds in relationships (20%) say they know friends and peers who have been struck in anger (kicked, hit, slapped, or punched) by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • Only half of all tweens (51%) claim to know the warning signs of a bad/hurtful relationship.
  • More than three times as many tweens (20%) as parents (6%) admit that parents know little or nothing about the tweens’ dating relationships.
  • Twice as many tweens report having “hooked up” with a partner (17%) as parents reported of their own 11-14 year old child (8%).
  • For teens:
  • More than one in three teens report that their partners wanted to know where they were (36%) and who they were with (37%) all the time.
  • Among teens who had sex by age 14, it’s much higher (58% and 59%, respectively).
  • 29% of teens say their boyfriends/girlfriends call them names and put them down, compared to 58% of teens who had sex by age 14.
  • 22% of teens say they were pressured to do things they did not want to do, compared to 45% of teens who had sex by age 14.
  • 69% of all teens who had sex by age 14 said they have gone through one or more types of abuse in a relationship.