Dating abuse is an issue that affects many teens.
In Massachusetts, 1 in 6 girls and 1 in 25 guys have experienced physical or sexual
violence in a dating relationship. And 1 in 3 teens report knowing a friend or peer who
has been physically hurt by their partner.

But 3 in 4 teens say that if they were in an abusive relationship and needed support,
they would tell their friends first.

There are many reasons that teens do not immediately approach adults for support.
Teens may be scared to involve an adult. Many teens feel that adults canít understand
that situations theyíre facing; that adults may brush them off or make light of the situation.
A teen experiencing abuse may worry that their parent will blame or punish them for
being in an abusive relationship. A friend of a teen in an abusive relationship may worry
that a teacher or coach will breach their trust by involving other authorities, like parents
or the school principal.

So what can we do as adults?

Teens who can talk to adult family members about things important to them have lower
rates of experiencing dating abuse (Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey 2005).
If youíre a parent, itís important to start talking about relationships with your teens before
they or their friends begin dating. Once your teen begins dating, itís easier to bring up the
subject if youíve already talked about it. If youíre a teacher, coach, or counselor, stress to
your students that you are a confidential and supportive source they can talk to. Let them
know that you will only involve other adults if you are afraid that they or someone else is
being or going to be physically hurt.

Talking about relationships and abuse can be difficult. Read on for a few tips to get
you started talking with teens.


Whether youíre a parent, coach, teacher, or youth worker, you can help support peer
leadership initiatives to prevent dating abuse. Are you ready to go the extra step to support
youth and end abuse? Get Educated about peer leadership programs nationally and in
Massachusetts. Then, Get Organized and help begin a peer leadership program in your
school or community!
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