It’s Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. What can I do to help?

At home: Talk to the teen in your life about healthy relationships. In a national study, only about 25% of parents reported talking with their kids about dating relationships. You can find conversation starters and guides written by teens for adults with teens by clicking here.

In your workplace: advocate for inclusive policies and practices (including budgeting for accessibility-related needs), take an implicit bias training or offer career development and mentorship for teens.

In the government: Contact your legislator in support of policies that create safe stable and nurturing environments in every area from education to infrastructure, healthcare to criminal justice reform, responsible lending practices to paid family leave. Technology has made it possible to easily track legislation, and hold your representatives accountable. Consider signing up for the following:

  • Ping the People: track Indiana legislation and keywords, with easy text and email alerts
  • Countable: Read clear and succinct summaries of proposed legislation, directly tell your lawmakers how to vote on those bills, and see how your representatives voted

In your social network: share your story (if you feel safe and comfortable to do so), speak out against microaggressions and inequitable language, and of course, share this blog post and the resources listed.

If a teen you know is experiencing relationship abuse:

In a national study, only 32 percent of teens reported that they would tell an adult about their experience of teen dating abuse. Youth report that they seldom tell adults about their experience of teen dating abuse (TDA) because they believe that our interventions will make the situation worse.

An often-repeated theme in working with adult survivors of domestic violence is that the survivor is the best expert on their experience. In working with youth experiencing TDA, we’ve had a bad habit of forgetting this wisdom.

In spite of our best intentions, youth have not found adults to be very helpful in solving the problem of TDA. Common responses tend to reinforce the isolation and secrecy that youth experience around this issue. With the intention of protecting, adults may attempt to restrict or control the survivor’s access to their cell phone, social media accounts, friend groups, social organizations, etc. as a response to TDA.

Adults can be supportive and effective by talking with survivors of TDV about their safety and accountability options and collaborating with them to create a safety plan that best meets their needs. Adults can help survivors to explore their options—including what’s possible within the organization as well as the community’s civil and criminal legal systems—and the possible pros and cons of each choice. An excellent model TDV safety plan can be found here.

More information about responses survivors have found helpful in a DV situation can be found here.

Together, we can end Teen Dating Violence, and create the conditions where Indiana’s youth can reach their full potential

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