Arlington’s Project PEACE is working to promote healthy dating relationships and prevent teen dating abuse locally. When we began this work, we faced with three major questions:
- What do we know about Arlington teens experiencing teen dating abuse?
- How do we promote healthy dating relationships and prevent dating abuse?
- What resources exist that teachers, faith leaders, parents, youth workers, coaches and others can use in a variety of settings and timeframes?
Below are the answers to these questions. We hope that sharing our results will make it easier for you to join in this effort.
What do we know about Arlington teens experiencing teen dating abuse?
The Arlington Partnership for Children and Families has been asking about physical dating violence victimization in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey since 2001. In 2010, the Partnership added questions on other unhealthy aspects of dating relationships. The most recent data show that:
- 499 students or 7% of youth in grades 8 to 12 have been physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year.
- 1,212 students or 17% of youth in grades 8 to 12 had a romantic partner who always wanted to know where they were and
- 785 students or 11% of youth had had a partner who was verbally abusive.
- Students who reported both forms of abusive behavior (verbal abuse, needing to know whereabouts) were far more likely to report being hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend and far more likely to report being forced to have sexual intercourse.
- Teens who report verbal abuse and having partners who want to know where they are all of the time are at risk and need support.
When we looked at how to promote healthy dating relationships, Project PEACE considered the results of another survey administered by the Partnership, Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors “Assets” Survey. This survey asks about young people’s relationships and experiences as well as their values and skills. The 2009 Developmental Assets survey shows that:
- Only 46% of Arlington 8th, 10th and 12th grade teens report having the skills they need to settle conflicts peacefully.
- Although 58% of 8th, 10th and 12th grade girls report having the skills they need to be good friends, only 33% of boys report those same skills.
Do you want to be able to estimate the number of teens experiencing teen dating abuse in your community?
Contact Arlington’s Partnership for Children and Families to see what questions they have added to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. This adaptation provides you with a local prevalence rate for teen dating abuse and information on a range of strengths and risky behaviors among teens in unhealthy relationships. Survey reports are online at: https://apcyf.arlingtonva.us/2016/04/youth-risk-behavior-survey-data/
Contact your State Department of Health. Virginia’s Department of Health provides a helpful factsheet that describes abusive dating behaviors and State estimates of prevalence.
How do we promote healthy dating relationships and prevent dating abuse?
Arlington’s Project PEACE identified resources that provide research-based strategies to promote healthy dating relationships and prevent teen dating abuse. Several of these resources are listed below.
“Guidelines for the Primary Prevention of Sexual Violence & Intimate Partner Violence.” Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance.
Excellent information on beginning or expanding primary prevention efforts that strengthen protective factors and address risk factors.
“Training Professionals in the Primary Prevention of Sexual and Intimate Partner Violence: A Planning Guide.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010. http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/ipv-sv_program_activities_guide-a.pdf
“This Guide describes how to develop, implement, and evaluate a process for training professionals to engage in sexual violence and intimate partner violence prevention. The Guide is designed to help practitioners tailor individual trainings to different groups of professionals. It provides definitions of sexual violence and intimate partner violence and includes real-life examples to illustrate theory put into practice. In addition to step-by-step guidance on all the tasks necessary for planning and training, the Guide includes tip sheets, worksheets, checklists, and an extensive resource list.”