Washington, D.C.— Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), along with Representatives Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) and Ashley Hinson (R-IA), introduced a resolution to officially designate February as “Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.” Millions of teenage Americans suffer from dating violence each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 1 in 11 high school females and 1 in 15 high school males report having experienced physical dating violence, and 1 in 9 high school females and 1 in 36 high school males report having experienced sexual dating violence.
"A 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed that approximately 44% of teens reported being a victim of violence at the hands of their partner. Now, with the advent of social media, there are even more tools and avenues that are used to pursue and harass innocent victims," said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. “This is a significant issue that impacts everyone—teens, parents, teachers, friends, and our communities, as well. This bipartisan resolution is a step to empower victims and educate the public. Together, we can raise awareness about teen dating violence and promote safe, healthy relationships."
"Teen dating violence can take on many forms, both seen and unseen, and affect any teenager," said Rep. Jennifer Wexton. "Whether the violence is physical, sexual, psychological, or cyber, the scars of an abusive relationship can severely impact a teenager’s development and follow them for their entire life. To help our teens who are suffering from this abuse, we need to raise awareness of this issue, break the stigma, and promote the importance of safe, healthy relationships."
“An increasing number of teenagers in relationships are subject to emotional or physical abuse by their partners,” said Rep. Ashley Hinson. “I am proud to join Representative Wexton in this important resolution to raise awareness about teen dating violence to help curb this disturbing trend and promote healthy relationships for adolescents.”
Dating violence can take on many different forms, including physical violence, sexual violence, psychological aggression, and stalking. In recent years, technology-facilitated dating violence has been on the rise amongst teenagers, which includes actions like cyber extortion and posting private photos of a partner without their consent with the goal of public humiliation. While dating violence can affect any teen, young women, racial and ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ teens can face disproportionate rates of violence.
Unhealthy relationships that start early in life can have long-lasting impacts on the survivor's life well into adulthood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teens who experience dating violence are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, substance use, and suicidal thoughts.
Teens can often face a number of challenges in reporting dating violence and getting help. Fears about disclosing dating violence to a parent or loved one can lead to many teens suffering in silence, unaware of the resources available to them. Raising awareness about recognizing dating violence and the importance of safe and healthy relationships is essential to help teens who face this abuse.
In addition to Fitzpatrick, Wexton, and Hinson, the resolution is cosponsored by Representatives André Carson (D-IN), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Tom Reed (R-NY), Jackie Speier (D-CA), and Dina Titus (D-NV).
The resolution is also endorsed by the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Love is Respect.
The full text of the resolution can be found here.
If you or a teen or parent you know would like to speak to a trained peer advocate, you can contact the National Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 or text “loveis” to 77054 or through live chat at loveisrespect.org.