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EAP News
February 1, 2021

Understanding Teen Dating Violence and How to Offer or Get Help

Stacey J. Drubner, JD, LICSW, MPH

Teen dating violence is often a topic that’s not discussed. Therefore, many teens are not getting appropriate education on preventing or addressing dating violence and many may not feel comfortable discussing teen dating violence with friends, parents, teachers or coaches. The best way to counteract teen dating violence is with knowledge and guidance (resources below). The Mass General Brigham EAP is always available to help employees and immediate household family members with Support for Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual Assault or Trauma.

Forms of Teen Dating Violence

  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Stalking
  • Digital/Online
  • Emotional/Psychological

Prevalence of Teen Dating Violence
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

  • Reports of physical violence in the last year: Nearly 1 in 11 female and approximately 1 in 15 male high school students
  • Reports of sexual violence in the last year: About 1 in 9 female and 1 in 36 male high school students
  • In groups that are already marginalized: Sexual minority groups are disproportionately affected by all forms of violence, and some racial/ethnic minority groups are disproportionately affected by many types of violence.

Digital Dating Abuse

In recent years the establishment of devices and social media in teen culture has made digital platforms a common vehicle for teen dating violence. A 2020 survey of 12-17 year-olds in dating relationships (Journal of Interpersonal Violence) reported that:

  • About 28% of students had been the victim of digital dating abuse
  • Males were more likely to report having experienced it (32% compared to 24%)
  • Experiencing offline dating abuse was by far the strongest correlate for digital abuse

Impacts of Teen Dating Violence

  • Depression, suicide and anxiety
  • School performance issues
  • Unhealthy or risk-taking behaviors
  • Anti-social behaviors
  • Increased chance of engaging in other abusive relationships in the future

Help for Teen Dating Violence

Help for Parents

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