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Sexual Behaviors and Health

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline
or text "loveis" to 22522

National Sexual Assault Hotline
1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

GLBT National Youth Talkline
1-800-246-PRIDE (7743)

National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

ACT for Youth Highlight
Teen Dating Violence
Dating abuse may have serious consequences for adolescent development. This article summarizes the scope of the problem, the role of gender, risk factors for victimization and perpetration, and prevention strategies.


Formatted for Screen Readers

Dating Violence

The CDC defines teen dating violence as "physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence within a dating relationship, including stalking" [1]. Preventing teen dating violence starts with awareness. Did you know that in the U.S. almost 1.5 million high school students experience physical abuse from a partner every year? Or that out of every three young people, one has been a victim of physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse from someone they are dating? [2]

Experiencing such violence so early in life can have long-term detrimental impacts on adolescents: victims are at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, and attempted or considered suicide. Adolescent girls generally suffer more serious and more lasting effects than adolescent boys, though perpetrators come from both genders.

The following resources can help promote knowledge about teen dating violence, facilitate effective intervention and prevention, and give guidance on seeking or providing help.

Resources for Educators and Parents

Fact Sheets, Background Information, and Statistics

Dating Violence Prevention
Here, provides a wealth of information on teen dating violence, including characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships, prevalence, electronic aggression, gender considerations, prevention programs, and much more.

Teen Dating Violence
This web page from the CDC includes an overview of teen dating violence definitions, the consequences of and reasons for dating violence, and a list of additional resources.

Child Trends: Dating Violence
This fact sheet from Child Trends provides data on dating violence prevalence and trends.

Why Don't They Tell? Teens and Sexual Assault Disclosure
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network outlines why adolescents often keep sexual assault experiences secret.

Violence Prevention: Summary and Special Reports
Here the CDC provides reports from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. Reports include data on the national prevalence of intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and stalking among women and men in the United States.

Dating Abuse Statistics
This fact sheet from Loveisrespect details statistics about young adult dating violence, including prevalence of dating violence among youth as well as college students, lasting effects, and lack of awareness among peers and parents.

Teen Dating Violence among LGBTQ Youth
This Human Rights Campaign overview of teen dating violence among LGBTQ youth also includes a list of national resources that serve LGBTQ survivors of intimate partner violence.

Dating Violence Prevention, Teens Ages 13 to 19 Years
The New York State Department of Health provides an overview and links to state and national resources.


Teaching Young People about Consent
In this article from ACT for Youth, Elizabeth Schroeder discusses the need to talk about consent with youth "early and often," and offers tips for educating children and youth on the topic.

What Consent Looks Like
In this short Q&A, RAINN outlines how consent plays out in real life.

What is Consent? discusses the meaning of consent, what it looks like, what consent does NOT look like, and red flags.

Consent: It's Simple as Tea
This video by Blue Seat Studios, Emmeline May, and Rachel Brian illustrates the need for consent through the clear and humorous metaphor of tea.

Teach Consent
Produced by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, this short video is especially appropriate for pre-teens and younger teens. A facilitation guide is also available.

Can I Have This Phone?
This video from CampusClarity is a useful tool to be used as part of a training or dialogue on consent.

Healthy Relationships

Helping Youth Build Relationship Skills
The development of healthy relationships is part of the path to adulthood. This page from ACT for Youth connects to program activities and curricula focused on relationships, as well as resources for youth.

SEL Toolkit: Relationship Skills
This section of ACT for Youth's Social and Emotional Learning Toolkit links to strategies and resources that will help youth work professionals teach relationship skills.

Understanding Warning Signs and Risk Factors

Learn about Dating Violence
Offered by Break the Cycle, this collection of web pages explains warning signs of dating violence and what legal protections, academic research, and other resources are available.

Risk Factors
This web page from examines factors that may increase teens' risk of experiencing or perpetrating teen dating violence.

How to Help

Get Help for Someone Else
This comprehensive guide from Loveisrespect is directed toward friends, family, and others who want to assist a person in an abusive relationship.

Working with Young Survivors
Young people often face obstacles in accessing dating abuse services, but a knowledgeable service provider can help overcome those obstacles and ensure a young survivor's safety. These resources from Break the Cycle offer an introduction to some of the challenges that youth and service providers face.

Love is Digital
From Loveisrespect, the Love is Digital texting program provides support to parents and teachers. By texting "parentinfo" or "teacherinfo" to 22522, parents and teachers will receive content and links to help educate teens on dating abuse and support a culture of healthy relationships.

Trainings, Curricula, and Materials

Dating Matters: Understanding Teen Dating Violence Prevention
From the CDC, Dating Matters® is a free, online course available to educators, school personnel, youth mentors, and others dedicated to improving teen health. Follow a school administrator throughout his day as he highlights what teen dating violence is and how to prevent it through graphic novel scenarios, interactive exercises, and information gathered from leading experts.

Love is Not Abuse: A Teen Dating Abuse Prevention Curriculum
This comprehensive, free curricula from Loveisrespect can be used with high school students.

Toolkit to Incorporate Adolescent Relationship Abuse Prevention into Existing Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Programming
Designed for Family and Youth Services Bureau grantees, this toolkit will be relevant to a broader audience. Topics covered include organizational readiness, material selection, preparation for implementation, and evaluation.

Working with Schools
Schools are vital partners in dating abuse prevention and response, uniquely positioned to spread prevention messages and to sensitively intervene to support students who are experiencing dating abuse. This web page from Break the Cycle lists useful resources for working with and in schools.

Teen Dating Violence: For Educators
The website for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (February) features several curricula as well as information on useful school-wide policies and practices.

Activity Guides
Activity Guides from Break the Cycle include short activities with discussion questions and facilitator tips to help advocates start conversations about healthy relationships and dating abuse with students.

Love is Respect: Download Materials
Loveisrespect offers materials for youth or those working with youth, including palm cards, bookmarks, posters, handouts, and quizzes.

A Parent's Guide to Teen Dating Violence
This handbook from Break the Cycle includes an overview of teen dating violence and guidance for parents on how to approach the topic with teens.

Answer: Sexual Assault and Violence Lesson Plans
In addition to relationship skills online workshops, Answer at Rutgers offers lesson plans covering sexual assault and consent.

Resources for Youth

Understanding Consent

How Do You Know if Someone Wants to Have Sex with You?
Planned Parenthood produced this video to demonstrate what consent looks like, giving examples of ways to find out if your partner wants to do what you would like to do.

This video for middle school students is part of the AMAZE sex education video project.

Assessing Your Relationship

Relationship Checkup
Do a relationship health checkup on any relationship by taking the Communication Danger Signs Quiz on this page from the ACT Youth Network.

Are We Right for Each Other?
How can you know if a person is right for you? How can you know if you should start, stay, or even break up? Anyone can have doubts. Sometimes it's just hard to know. The ACT Youth Network provides a quiz that may help.

Understanding Warning Signs

Real Danger Signs
You might be thinking this is not the best relationship, but do you know the signs of real danger? The ACT Youth Network helps you know the warning signs.

Warning Signs
This web page from Dating Abuse Stops Here (DASH) provides an overview of warning signs pointing to a potentially abusive relationship.

Warning Signs in Depth
DASH's early warning signs are meant to guide you in determining whether your relationship is healthy. On this page, they explore each warning sign in greater depth.

Lethal Warning Signs
Also from DASH, this list covers the most serious warnings signs -- signs that an abuser may become so extreme as to be a threat to your life. DASH also provides tips on creating a safety plan (see below for link).

Creating a Safety Plan

Create a Safety Plan
This DASH web page provides guidance on how to create a safety plan when attempting to leave an abusive relationship. It highlights the increased danger associated with ending an abusive relationship and provides tips for how to stay safe.

Get Help for Yourself: Safety Planning
This web page from Loveisrespect offers guidance on creating a personalized safety plan for individuals experiencing abuse or in an unhealthy relationship. Includes an "Interactive Guide to Safety Planning" in which you can create your own safety plan.

That's Not Cool: Need Help?
This web page from That's Not Cool includes tips for what you can do if you're being abused, if you think you're being abusive, if your friend is being abused, or if your friend is abusive. It also includes a list of additional resources for young people.

Circle of 6 App
The Circle of 6 app for iPhone and Android makes it quick and easy to reach the six people you choose. Originally designed for college students to prevent sexual violence, the Circle of 6 app is also handy for teenagers, parents, friends, or all communities seeking to foster healthy relationships and safety. Need help getting home? Need an interruption? Two taps lets your circle know where you are and how they can help.

Understanding Digital Abuse

A Thin Line
MTV's A Thin Line campaign was developed to empower you to identify, respond to, and stop the spread of digital abuse in your life and among your peers. The campaign is built on the understanding that there's a "thin line" between what may begin as a harmless joke and something that could end up having a serious impact on you or someone else.

Hotlines, Helplines, and Online Chats

National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-SAFE (7233) and 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
Advocates are available 24/7 to talk or chat online confidentially with anyone experiencing domestic violence, seeking resources or information, or questioning unhealthy aspects of a relationship.

Loveisrespect: National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline
1-866-331-9474 or text "loveis" to 22522
Highly trained peer advocates offer support, information, and advocacy to young people who have questions or concerns about their dating relationships. They can also provide information to concerned friends and family members, service providers, and members of law enforcement. Free and confidential phone, live chat, and texting services are available 24/7/365.

National Sexual Assault Hotline
1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
Run by RAINN, this safe and confidential hotline connects callers with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in their area. RAINN offers a range of free services including judgment-free support and assistance finding local services.

LGBT National Youth Talkline
1-800-246-PRIDE (7743)
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Youth Talkline provides telephone, online chat, and email peer-support, as well as factual information and local resources for cities and towns across the United States. All services are free and confidential. Talkline advocates speak with teens and young adults up to age 25 about coming-out issues, relationship concerns, parent issues, school problems, HIV/AIDS anxiety and safer-sex information, and much more.


[1]   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Teen dating violence.
[2]   Loveisrespect. Dating abuse statistics.
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