Our responsibility — as parents, teachers, mentors, and community leaders — is to guide our young people towards respectful relationships free from harassment and abuse; teach them that it’s OK to walk away from a bad situation; and encourage them to speak out when they see a friend in trouble.

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Unfortunately, the number of teens who suffer from abuse in relationships is not small: nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced physical, emotional, and sexual violence in a relationship during their adolescent years.

Many of the contributing factors are preventable, and NIDA needs your help to spread the word and stop the violence. Here are some signs that a partner might have abusive tendencies.

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, designed to raise awareness about this and related issues. One study found that, in junior high and high school, teens who drank alcohol before age 13 were more likely to be both victims and abusers when it comes to physical dating violence.

Another study found that teenage girls in abusive relationships are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, have eating disorders, engage in unsafe sexual behaviors, and attempt suicide.

According to the CDC, violence is related to specific risk factors, including teens who: Teen dating violence is often the beginning of abusive relationships in adult life.

About one in five women and nearly one in seven men who ever experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age, reports the CDC in their 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

It is important to create spaces, such as school communities, where the behavioral norms are not tolerant of abuse in dating relationships.” But preventing and addressing dating violence shouldn’t be limited to just those in the relationships. US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.[5]Breiding, M. “What Are the Early Warning Signs of Teen Dating Violence? Retrieved from Signsof Teen Dating on February 14, 2017.[13]“Dating Violence Information for Educators.” Dating Violence: Violence Prevention Works.

Parents, educators, community advocates, and other teens can take steps to prevent and intervene in situations of dating violence as well. Retrieved from February 14, 2017.[14] “Dating Violence Information for Parents.” Dating Violence: Violence Prevention Works.

Teen dating violence is a serious problem affecting adolescents across the nation, and it is an issue that often goes overlooked or unrecognized.