Teen dating violence is a pattern of harmful and destructive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner. It usually involves a series of abusive behaviors where one partner has more control or dominance over another.
The purpose of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is to raise public awareness about the impact of dating violence on youth, educate young people about healthy relationships, and encourage the community to get involved to disrupt cycles of violence among teens.
Many teens experience some form of intimate partner violence even before graduating from high school. According to the 2018-2019 Fairfax County Youth Survey, 28.5% of teens have experienced dating aggression, including forced/pressured sex, physical violence, verbal abuse and/or stalking from a partner – a 2% decrease from the 2017-2018 data.
It’s important to celebrate the gains we have made in the county toward supporting healthier relationships. However, we must also recognize where teens need additional support. According to the 2018-2019 Fairfax County Youth Survey, almost 90% of teens that had been sexually harassed anywhere from 1 to 40 times in the past 12 months have also considered suicide, with 83.6% of those teens actually attempting suicide. This evidence, provided by our county’s youth, demonstrates the prevalence of abuse among youth, and how the effects of interpersonal violence can severely impact mental health development and increase risk of suicide.
The task of ending teen dating violence is a community responsibility. By building the self-esteem of teens in our communities, we can encourage our young people to pursue healthy relationships, promote their resilience, and interrupt the cycle of violence. Let’s ensure people know that dating violence is never tolerated and that everyone deserves to feel safe in their relationships. Accordingly, our theme for TDVAM 2020 is Be.The.One: Know Your Worth.
We encourage everyone to Be.the.One: Know Your Worth, and Fairfax County is participating in a series of events to help with that endeavor.