The Problem

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For the purposes of this site, we define teen dating violence as:

“A pattern of actual or threatened acts of physical, sexual, financial, verbal/emotional abuse, sexual or reproductive coercion, social sabotage, and/or sexual harassment perpetrated by an adolescent against a current or former partner or a person with whom the teen has some kind of intimate relationship” (Ohio Domestic Violence Network, 2010).

We use the phrase “teen dating violence” (TDV) because that is the language generally used by advocates and the public health community to describe abusive and controlling behaviors in adolescent relationships. We use the term for the sake of consistency in sharing common language, but there are few important points to be made about this phrase…

  • First, the use of the term “teens” does not mean that these dynamics are limited to relationships between teenagers. You will see in the incidence information provided below that these dynamics are present in relationships among younger youth including the “tweens” group.
  • Second, the formal term “dating” may not be the language that the youth you serve use to describe their relationships. Whether they are hanging out, hooking up, going out, crushing, flirting or seeing, we use “dating” as an inclusive term to cover the spectrum of adolescent romantic relationships from casual episodic encounters to longer-term committed relationships.
  • Finally, it’s important to note that the use of that term violence does not mean that our understanding of the dynamics or responsibility to respond to abusive behaviors is limited to physical acts of violence.

Teen dating violence (TDV) is a serious problem across the country and in Indiana. Here are some statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  • 12% of Indiana students surveyed in the 9-12th grades reported being hit, slapped or physically hurt by their boyfriend or girlfriend within the past year alone (Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2009).
  • 11% of Indiana students in the 9-12th grades reported an experience of forced sexual intercourse in their lifetime (YRBS, 2009).
  • 17% of high school girls surveyed in Indiana reported an experience of forced sexual intercourse in their lifetime (YRBS, 2009).

Indiana survey data only captures the prevalence of physical forms of abuse. National studies examining the broader spectrum of harassment, emotional and tech forms of abuse have found:

  • 48% of students reported some experience of sexual harassment in the 2010-2011 school-year (AAUW, 2011).
  • In national studies as many as 50% of youth report experience of emotional abuse (Hickman, Jaycox & Aranoff, 2004).
  • 1 in 4 teens in a relationship say they have been called names, harassed or put down by their partner through cell phones and texting (Liz Claiborne, TRU, 2007).