February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

February 27, 2012

An alarming number of young people are exposed to domestic violence at home – a phenomenon that can both teach violence as a way of getting needs met and desensitize adolescents to aggressive behavior. While not all victims and perpetrators of adolescent partner violence witness domestic violence in the home, growing up in a home where there is domestic violence greatly increases the likelihood that adolescents will end up in abusive dating relationships. It is estimated that 20 percent of adolescent girls will experience partner violence and that 16 percent to 39 percent of adolescent boys will be violent with a dating partner. Additionally, a recent research project found that in a 12 month period, one in 10 high school students nationwide reported they were physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend, and still more experienced verbal or emotional abuse like shaming, bullying, or threats.

Because adolescents are differently affected by violence and face a host of barriers to getting help, the need for awareness, education, prevention, and intervention are great. Congress took notice of grassroots efforts in communities to raise awareness and end abuse among adolescents and in 2010 declared the month of February National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

In 2011, the Family Violence Department published a comprehensive review and annotated bibliography of the research and tools related to adolescent partner violence. The bibliography, which is available to the public, contains over 100 fact sheets, articles, and curricula related to perpetration and victimization, as well as ideas for intervention and awareness. Several other organizations have packets and media kits available in recognition of National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. For a copy of the bibliography, please e-mail fvdinfo@ncjfcj.org. For adolescent-centered tools and information about adolescent partner violence and for creative ideas on raising awareness in your community, please visit www.loveisrespect.org and www.thatsnotcool.com.

The Family Violence Department is addressing adolescent partner violence by designing a curriculum specifically for judges around this issue. This training, part of the first national effort on improving court practice, will educate judges on the dynamics of adolescent partner violence and appropriate interventions for youth. The three-day, highly-interactive training will help judges define adolescence and describe the impact of brain development and environmental factors on adolescent behaviors; assess dangerousness and risk factors, including the presence and impact of trauma, for youth in abusive relationships; rule on evidentiary issues; initiate or enhance communication and collaboration amongst justice system and community partners to improve services for youth involved in adolescent relationship abuse.

The first training is scheduled for summer 2012. For more information, please contact Jenny Talancon, registrar, at jtalancon@ncjfcj.org.

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