One of the most important duties for any court system is to ensure that youth in the community are protected. As the former presiding judge of the Milwaukee Children’s Court, Milwaukee County Domestic Violence Courts, Milwaukee County Family Court and now the Presiding Judge of the Milwaukee County Probate Court, I have seen many teen survivors of dating violence, including all genders and sexual orientations and every ethnic background imaginable. It was, and is, very sad to me that while these young people are supposed to be focusing on the challenges of adolescence, they were instead grappling with the violence caused by their partners.
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) is highlighting the importance of youth victimized through dating violence. As a judge and a parent, it’s difficult for me to imagine that 1 in 3 girls that I saw in my court were likely to be physically, emotionally, or verbally abused by an intimate partner. That number is too high for any community. Worse, girls and young women from the ages of 16 to 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence, almost triple the national average.
One of the hardest tasks I have faced is making decisions in cases that involve victimized youth. I know that judges around the country (many of whom are parents) also are deeply concerned about making the right decision in cases that involve teen survivors. These are tough issues for any judge to handle alone. That is why the NCJFCJ and I put together this article entitled “8 Things Every Judge Should Know About Teen Dating Violence.” It is certainly not everything you may need to know, but it’s a start. We hope you find this blog helpful. If you are interested in what you read and want to learn more, please feel free to reach out.
1. Don’t treat teen survivors like adult survivors.
2. Remember that teens think differently from adults.
3. Recognize the link between delinquency, substance abuse, and teen victimization.
4. Think about teen culture.
5. Talk to your school system to keep the survivor protected.
6. Social media can be a medium for control and abuse of teen victims.
7. You can't do it alone: Talk to community partners.
8. Ensure the door to your court is open (and they know how to get there).
Hon. Marshall Murray
Presiding Judge, Milwaukee County Probate Court
Member, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
 Throughout this article the pronoun “she” is used, although victims of teen dating violence can be both male and female. As with adult domestic violence, teen dating violence is a gendered phenomenon and there is a substantial overrepresentation of young teen girls who are victims of dating violence.
 See https://www.loveisrespect.org/resources/dating-violence-statistics/ (last accessed January 13, 2020); Antoinette Davis, Interpersonal and Physical Dating Violence among Teens, Focus (Nat’l Council on Crime and Delinquency, Sep. 2008), available at https://www.nccdglobal.org/sites/default/files/publication_pdf/focus-dating-violence.pdf (last accessed January 13, 2020).
 See e.g., https://www.loveisrespect.org/resources/dating-violence-statistics/ (last accessed January 13, 2020).
Edited and reprinted from an article originally published on January 29, 2016.
This project was made possible by Grant Number 90EV039-04-00 from the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, Family and Youth Services Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.