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Teen Dating Violence: How to Help Your Child

Young love can be exciting and fun.

However, teenage relationships can also be heartbreaking—and even violent.

The good news is you can help your teenager to protect themselves from unhealthy dating relationships.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dating violence can happen in many ways.

Just a few examples of teen dating violence are:

  • Physical violence
    • hitting
    • punching
    • shoving
    • using weapons
  • Sexual violence
    • forcing a partner to take part in a sex act
    • sexually touching a partner who does not consent
    • sexually touching someone who is unable to consent, such as a person who is passed out
    • posting or sharing sexual photos of someone without their consent
  • Emotional violence
    • using words or writing to harm a partner mentally or emotionally
    • using words or threats to control a partner
  • Stalking 
    • giving someone repeated, unwanted attention
    • scaring someone with continuing calls, texts, emails, or in-person contact
    • making the victim—or people close to the victim—worry about their safety

The teen years are a time of change. During middle and high school, many teens try out new interests, looks, and friends.

Teen relationships can have dramatic highs and lows. However, as your teenager gets to know a new romantic partner, here are some warning signs to watch for:

  • jealousy that seems excessive
  • constant emails, texts, or calls
  • spending less time on hobbies, sports, or schoolwork
  • ignoring friends and family members
  • bruises, scratches, cuts, or other injuries
  • depression or anxiety
  • drastic changes in clothes, makeup, or hairstyle
  • abuse toward animals, children, or other people

Teenagers can be very independent. Sometimes the best way to guide your child is to help them make their own decisions.

Here are some tips for talking to your teen about dating violence:

Listen patiently

Let your teen know their partner’s behavior is not their fault. If your child does not answer your questions about the relationship, let them talk to you when they are ready.

If your teen tells you things you don’t want to hear, be supportive. Show that you believe them. Keep asking questions.

Tell your teen that you are concerned for their safety. Let them know that they deserve to be treated with respect by romantic partners.

Even if your child is in a harmful relationship, they may still have strong romantic feelings for their partner. Talk about the abusive behaviors, and try to not “trash talk” the person.

Parenting a teenager can be tough. Keep reading and learning so you can help your child to build healthy relationships—and avoid harmful ones.

Need help? Don’t wait. Call, text, or click today:

For parents:

1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Chat live: text "START" to 88788

For teens:

Love is Respect hotline


Chat live: text LOVEIS to 22522


Dallas Domestic Violence Task Force 

Dallas Independent School District resources

Dallas shelter resources

Domestic violence shelters database

Carelon Behavioral Health