February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (#TDVAM2024)

A teenager’s first crush or relationship can bring a lot of new emotions and experiences. Some of these relationships can turn harmful or abusive which can change how teens view themselves and even shape how they choose their next romantic partner. Young people are also turning to technology and online platforms to establish relationships. Everyone deserves to feel safe in person and online. So, knowing how to talk with young people about healthy relationships is important.

What is teen dating abuse?

Approximately 1 in 3 teens experience dating abuse. Abuse can include physical, verbal, sexual, or emotional harm. This can be either in-person or online.

Most teens have a smartphone or access to a smartphone. This technology helps teens connect. This can be with friends. It can be with romantic partners. Or it can be for information gathering. 

In abusive relationships, a partner may use technology to gain power or control. For example, abusive partners might threaten to share fake or private pictures online.

Increasing online safety and privacy

There are many social media sites. This can feel overwhelming for those parenting or working with young people. Here is advice that will help you support young people who are in abusive relationships:

  1. Build a trusting connection: Listen without judgment. Take their situation seriously, and thank them for sharing.
  2. Ask open-ended questions to understand how technology is involved: What is happening? Where, when, and with whom? What does the teen want to happen?
  3. It’s important to initiate a conversation about safety with others in a supportive and non-judgmental manner. How do they feel about what’s happening? How have they been keeping themselves safe?
  4. Decide on the next steps together: This could involve safety planning around the relationship. Or it could include establishing technology boundaries.

Preventing teen dating violence is the best way to stop it from happening. It is essential to understand that any form of dating violence or abuse is a pattern of power and control of one partner over another. Young people can learn about healthy relationships by openly communicating with adults like you. 

If you want to know more about technology abuse in teen relationships, visit the Safety Net Project. Helping teens develop healthy technology habits can increase their safety and confidence online.

Love shouldn’t hurt. Here’s how you can get involved in #TDVAM2024

  • Wear Orange Day for Love Day is Tuesday, February 6 
    • Step 1: Wear orange 
    • Step 2: Take a pic 
    • Step 3: Post on social media using the hashtags #Orange4LoveDay and #TDVAM2024 
    • Step 4: Repeat steps 1-3 with a friend
  • Check out Break the Cycle and Love is Respect for information aimed at parents, educators, and young people.
  • To better understand teens, technology, and dating, check out the Safety Net Project. Their That’s Not Cool site helps to educate youth on dating abuse and, specifically, digital abuse.
  • Connect with local domestic violence and legal aid organizations.

Always call 911 in an emergency. If you believe someone needs help, let them know they can call the Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline at any time at 1-866-723-3014.

Learn more about the Office of Domestic Violence Strategies