Approximately 10 percent of all high school students report experiencing physical dating violence in the previous 12 months, and approximately 10 percent report experiencing sexual dating violence in the previous 12 months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The same CDC survey also found that among students who dated, 21 percent of female students and 10 percent of male students experienced physicial and/or sexual violence.
Unhealthy relationships during the teen years can disrupt normal development and contribute to other unhealthy behaviors in teens that can lead to problems over a lifetime. Teens who experience dating violence are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, engage in unhealthy behaviors such as experimenting with tobacco, drugs and alcohol, and have thoughts about suicide, according to the CDC. The mental and physical health consequences can extend into adulthood, and unhealthy relationships in adolescence also can create a cycle of abusive relationships.
Prevention initiatives include early education about safe dating practices. Efforts that provide education and information about healthy relationships often include components that address problem-solving skills and avoidance of risky behaviors. Dating Matters, a CDC initiative, raises awareness about teen dating violence and includes preventive strategies for individuals, peers, families, schools, and neighborhoods.
Policymakers can play a role in preventing teen dating violence. At least 22 states have laws that urge or require school boards to develop curriculum on teen dating violence. Some require schools to develop policies related to dating violence and other school violence. Many states have also adopted teen dating violence awareness weeks or months, in an effort to draw the public's attention to a national campaign that promotes prevention, healthy relationships, and offers information and resources.