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Teen Dating Violence

Special Feature
© Samuel Borges Photography/Shutterstock.com (see reuse policy).


Romantic relationships are a common part of adolescence. However, not all relationships are healthy.

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, an opportunity to raise awareness of teen dating violence and connect youth with the necessary resources.

What is teen dating violence?

Teen dating violence covers many abusive relationship behaviors, including physical and sexual violence, psychological aggression, and stalking by current or past romantic partners. It can take place in person, online, or through other technology.

Teen dating violence statistics at a glance

Teen dating violence affects millions of youth in the United States every year. In 2019, about 1 in 11 female teens and 1 in 14 male teens reported being victims of physical dating violence, according to teen dating violence statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Gay, lesbian, and bisexual students and students not sure of their sexual orientation are at particular risk of teen dating violence. CDC data shows that these students were more likely than heterosexual students to report physical or sexual dating violence in 2019.

Research supported by the National Institute of Justice found significant overlap between victimization and perpetration of teen dating violence. Researchers reported over 84% of teen dating violence victims also reported perpetrating abuse in a relationship. This trend emphasizes that relationships characterized by violence typically involve mutual violence.

How is OJP helping prevent teen dating violence?

The Teen Dating Violence Literature Review, published by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), presents research findings on a variety of topics associated with teen dating violence, including:

  • Risk factors for victimization or perpetration
  • Consequences experienced by victims
  • Effectiveness of programs designed to prevent or reduce teen dating violence

Teen dating violence is a public health problem that doesn't end at adolescence. NIJ supported research found those who experienced relationship violence in adolescence reported more episodes of relationship violence from adolescence to young adulthood. The study also showed that relationship abuse peaked in young adulthood, around age 20, for both men and women.

Perpetration raises from age 13 to age 21 and drops from 21 to 28
Age curve pattern for intimate partner violence perpetration by gender from ages 13 to 28. See page 10 of Patterns, Precursors, and Consequences of Teen Dating Violence: Analyzing Gendered and Generic Pathways for the full image and discussion.

NIJ-supported research also highlights the importance of family context in the development of teen dating violence. For example, aspects of parenting (e.g., lower maternal acceptance) and exposure to marital conflict were shown to be associated with involvement in teen dating violence. The research suggests that family-based intervention programs focused on improving parents' mental health, marital conflict, and parenting skills may be beneficial in addressing teen dating violence.

Signs of an unhealthy relationship

A resource from the Violence Against Women Research Consortium funded by NIJ explores what teenagers need to know if they are experiencing harm, causing harm, or want to help a friend experiencing dating violence. A second resource from the Consortium discusses what educators and service providers need to consider in situations involving teen dating violence.

Signs of teen dating violence can include:

  • Telling a partner who they can or cannot hang out with or follow on social media
  • Looking through messages on a partners' phone without permission
  • Inconsistent school attendance
  • Sudden request to change a class schedule or lunch hour
  • Constant worrying about making a partner angry
  • Joking about a partner's violent behavior or temper
Do's and Don'ts for teen dating abuse
Thriving Relationships Lab. (2022). Do's and Don'ts of Teen Dating Abuse. (see reuse policy).

With support from the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), the love is respect website makes vital resources accessible to teens experiencing dating violence, including preventing abusive relationships and promoting awareness of healthy dating relationships. The site offers a 24-hour helpline for teens, young adults, and their families.

Date Modified: February 22, 2024
Date Created: August 17, 2020

More on Teen Dating Violence from OJP

Visit the following pages for additional information and resources produced or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs and other federal agencies:

Teen Dating Violence PublicationsAdditional Teen Dating Violence Resources