Adolescence is a difficult phase of life for many different reasons. Teens are learning how to cope with powerful new emotions and experiment with dating for the first time. During this critical period of development, it’s important to teach teens how to recognize signs of teen dating violence (TDV) and distinguish between loving and controlling behaviors. Teens and tweens who establish healthy dating boundaries are less likely to victimize or remain in abusive relationships as adults.
More Common Than You Think
Unfortunately, Teen Dating Violence is prevalent nationally and locally. In the United states, Nearly half of all teens admit to compromising their personal beliefs in their dating relationships. According to 2021 data from the Youth Behavioral Risk Survey, 1 in 5 Utah teens were harmed by someone they were dating. Of teens who have experienced teen dating violence, only 33% talked to a trusted adult about it.
Teen dating violence can be caused by:
- poor communication skills
- difficulty coping with negative emotions
- an inability to distinguish between caring and controlling behaviors
- an inability to establish and maintain boundaries
- gender stereotypes which lead to unfair and unrealistic expectations within a relationship
Luckily the causes of TDV can be remedied through education and practice. Teens need to learn how to communicate and express their emotions in healthy ways. When they can do this, they are better equipped to have healthy relationships. Furthermore, teens also need to be able to recognize their own self worth and understand that there are many different people in their lives who love and care for them. Teens need to understand that a truly loving partner will want them to flourish not only within the relationship, but as a complete person as well.
Preventing Teen Dating Violence
To address these alarming trends in our state, The Utah Department of Health and Human Services and Workforce Services selected Prevent Child Abuse Utah to provide Teen Dating Violence Prevention Program to middle schoolers, parents and school personnel in Weber, Carbon and Emery County.
Through use of the evidence-based “Safe Dates” curriculum, students learn how to recognize abusive behaviors and create healthy relationships. In two classroom sessions, teens practice SAFE communication skills, where they learn to Stay calm, Ask questions, Find out feelings, and Exchange ideas for solutions. These skills help them handle conflict in healthy ways in all their relationships. They also learn how to create their own personalized safety plan with trusted adults and local organizations they can reach out to for help or guidance if they ever feel unsafe in their dating life.
Similarly, parents receive tools and support through 2 parent workshops. Dating and TDV can be a loaded and uncomfortable topic for parents. Especially when teens may have strong emotions about how they envision their dating life. Because of this, parents receive a Parent Workbook that provides parents with activities to help them have important conversations with their students about safe dating.
Finally, school personnel learn how to create safe school environments through a staff training. This training teaches teachers, administrators and other school staff to recognize the signs of TDV. They also will learn how to support students who report teen dating violence, and how to connect students to support.
Our Teen Dating Violence Prevention Program is FREE of charge to all middle schoolers, parents and faculty within Weber, Carbon, and Emery County. To schedule your presentation contact Nate Davis email@example.com (Weber), or Deserae Stevenson firstname.lastname@example.org (Carbon & Emery). Together we can prevent teen dating violence and help teens become well adjusted adults with healthy and enriching relationships.