Like adult domestic violence, teen dating violence includes a pattern of assaultive and coercive behavior that can include physical and sexual violence, stalking, verbal and emotional abuse, and intimidation. However, the nature of the relationship, dynamics of the violence, interventions needed, and how victims and perpetrators experience the court system can be quite different from adults.
Currently, the justice system and service models struggle to meet the unique needs of the teen population. The absence of tools to assess the dangerousness of teen offenders poses challenges for the courts and their communities. With the number of teens disclosing some experience with dating violence, the justice system must take an active role in improving the way it identifies and responds to these cases.
The NCJFCJ is actively involved in addressing teen dating violence through public awareness campaigns, judicial training, and technical assistance to communities with the ultimate aim of improving the safety, health, and well-being of the adolescent population.
To ensure a comprehensive judicial approach to addressing teen dating violence, the NCJFCJ provides educational opportunities and technical assistance to courts and court-related professionals throughout the country. The NCJFCJ’s curricula and technical assistance strive to increase the capacity of judges and court personnel to prioritize victim safety, hold offenders accountable, promote rehabilitation, leverage community support, and promote innovative youth services.
In partnership with Futures Without Violence, Break the Cycle and the Office on Violence Against Women, the NCJFCJ convened a two-and-a-half-day Judicial Institute on Teen Dating Violence in 2017 and delivered two webinars to more than 100 participants, “Creating Effective Protection Orders in Teen Dating Violence Cases” and “Just Between You and Me… and the Entire World: The Trouble with Teen Sexting.”
The NCJFCJ recommends the federal government set aside funds for additional education, research, technical assistance, and professional discussion forums to address emerging issues and to meet the increasing needs of our justice system in response to teen dating violence.