Teen Dating Violence Prevention

Adopted January 2013 – Revised May 2020 – Health & Community Concerns Commission

California State PTA believes in the importance of preventing and eliminating factors that may be detrimental to the health, safety and well-being of all children, youth and families.

Teen dating violence affects millions of teens in the U.S. each year.  Data from Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey 2019 indicate that:

  • Nearly 1 in 11 female and approximately 1 in 15 male high school students report having experienced physical dating violence in the last year.
  • About 1 in 9 female and 1 in 36 male high school students report having experienced sexual dating violence in the last year.
  • 26% of women and 15% of men who were victims of contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime first experienced these or other forms of violence by that partner before age 18.
  • The burden of teen dating violence is not shared equally across all groups—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.

Violence in an adolescent relationship sets the stage for problems in future relationships, including intimate partner violence and sexual violence perpetration and/or victimization throughout life.  Unhealthy, abusive, or violent relationships can have severe consequences and short-and long-term negative effects on a developing teen. For example, youth who are victims of teen dating violence are more likely to:

  • Experience symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Engage in unhealthy behaviors, like using tobacco, drugs, and alcohol
  • Exhibit antisocial behaviors, like lying, theft, bullying or hitting
  • Think about suicide

Teen dating violence includes four types of behavior:

  • Physical violence is when a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, or using another type of physical force.
  • Sexual violence is forcing or attempting to force a partner to take part in a sex act, sexual touching, or a non-physical sexual event (e.g., sexting) when the partner does not or cannot consent.
  • Psychological aggression is the use of verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm another person mentally or emotionally and/or exert control over another person.
  • Stalking is a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact by a partner that causes fear or concern for one’s own safety or the safety of someone close to the victim.

To protect children and youth from teen dating violence California State PTA supports state legislation that:

  • Authorizes school districts to provide education programs and policies that promote healthy relationships and prevent teen dating violence to pupils in grades 7 to 12, inclusive, through curricular, extracurricular, and school climate-improvement activities;
  • Authorizes school districts to work in partnership with parents, caregivers, and youth, domestic violence, sexual assault, or other appropriate community-based organizations, as deemed appropriate by the school district, to provide these education programs;
  • Authorizes school districts that choose to provide education programs that promote healthy relationships and prevent teen dating violence to use research-based materials that are appropriate for pupils of all races, genders, sexual orientations, gender identities, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and for pupils with disabilities;
  • Authorizes training for all school staff, including any security guards or police personnel that work at the school, on dating abuse and sexual assault, as well as how to handle reports of dating abuse by students, enforcement of the school’s dating abuse policy, and enforcement of civil or criminal orders of protection;
  • Requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to provide information about model education programs that are designed to promote healthy relationships and prevent teen dating violence on the State Department of Education’s Internet Website, as specified.
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