Get the Facts on Teen Dating Violence

Teen dating violence is a prevalent problem among our youth. Violent relationships have serious consequences for victims that put them at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, suicide and adult re-victimization. February is Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness month. As a leading provider of child and youth development services in the Chicago area, Metropolitan Family Services urges parents, adults and teens to learn the signs of an unhealthy relationship.

Teen Dating Violence Facts

  • One in three teens in the U.S. is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, according to Break the Cycle, a national organization addressing teen dating violence.
  • Dating violence happens in every type of relationship, in every community.
  • Dating violence isn’t just physical; emotional, sexual and digital violence can be just as devastating.

Know the Warning Signs

  • Although 82% of parents feel confident that they could recognize the signs if their child was experiencing dating abuse, a majority of parents (58%) could not correctly identify all the warning signs of abuse, according to the Love is Not Abuse organization. Common behaviors exhibited by abusers:
  • Checking a partner’s cell phone or email without permission
  • Constantly putting them down
  • Extreme jealousy or insecurity
  • Explosive temper
  • Isolating their partner from family or friends
  • Making false accusations
  • Mood swings
  • Physically hurting them in any way
  • Possessiveness
  • Telling their partner what to do

“Teens are most likely to go to their peers for information and support and rarely report the abuse to parents or other adults,” says Heather Flett, Program Manager at Metropolitan Family Services. “It is important to provide peer education and support programs that challenge the attitudes and behaviors that support violence in relationships.”

Metropolitan Family Services offers programs geared toward teen outreach and education about unhealthy relationships. Its STAR program (Southside Teens About Respect), is an evidenced-based teen dating violence prevention program that operates in schools on the southwest side of Chicago. STAR educates teens about dating violence and helps them explore their attitudes toward gender power, sexual assault, the myths and facts of intimate partner violence, and dating relationships. The program addresses the causes and solutions to dating violence and pro-social skills that help teens reduce the risk of becoming victims or perpetrators. The STAR Action Team, a high school version, is beginning at Hubbard High School this month.

To learn more, contact Jennifer Jenks at 773-884-2214 or jenksj@metrofamily.org.