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Healthy Teen Relationships Matter

by Selina Keryte, MPH, National Domestic Violence Program Lead, Division of Behavioral Health

For teenagers, dating can be fun and healthy. But adolescent relationships, like all others, can be vulnerable to violence and abuse. February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month, and IHS encourages teens to be aware of and, if necessary, seek help and get services to protect themselves from abuse and reduce the likelihood of dating violence.

Did you know?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  , in the United States:

  • 8% of students experienced physical dating violence in the last 12 months.
  • 9.1% of females reported experiencing physical dating violence, compared to 6.5% of male students.
  • According to a 2017 CDC report Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  , more than 25% of women, and more than 14% of men, who have experienced intimate partner violence (physical, sexual, stalking) first experienced it before age 18.

What are some of the signs of Teen Dating Violence?

  • Forcing or pressuring a partner to do things they don’t want to do
  • Taking control of your plans and communication with friends and family
  • Exhibiting resentment
  • Hitting, pushing, and physically hurting a dating partner
  • Sending unwanted text messages or reading messages to and from others
  • Making fun of a dating partner’s culture and traditions
  • Making threats
  • Sabotaging birth control methods (Examples: destroying birth control pills, repeated “accidental” breaks in a condom, refusing to use a condom)
  • Sharing or threatening to share images or texts of a dating partner to punish, embarrass, or control the actions of a partner

Signs of a Healthy Relationship?

  • Respecting each other’s space and setting boundaries
  • Exhibiting positive communication
  • Agreeing on and engaging in positive activities
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Allowing and encouraging individual interests and friendships

The IHS DVPI Prevention Program provides funding to 83 Domestic Violence Prevention Programs to tribes, tribal organizations, urban Indian organizations, and IHS federal facilities for a total of $11.2 million annually. DVPP programs aim to prevent domestic and sexual violence through culturally appropriate, evidence-based, practice-based models of violence prevention and treatment among American Indians and Alaska Natives.

One such funded project, the American Indian Health Services of Chicago Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  , is preventing teen dating violence by using the American Indian Life Skills Development Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  curriculum to educate youth about the differences between healthy and abusive relationships. They also teach safety planning, how to get orders of protection, self-care after experiencing trauma, and peer advocacy for friends and relatives experiencing teen dating violence. Visit their website to learn more. Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving 

Resources on Teen Dating Violence

Related content:

Domestic Violence Prevention Initiative (DVPI) Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving 

The National Domestic Violence Hotline Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving 

About DVPI

Selina Keryte, MPH, National Domestic Violence Program Lead, Division of Behavioral Health
Selina Keryte, MPH, is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation of Tse Yah Toh, New Mexico. Selina is the National Domestic Violence Program Lead in the Division of Behavioral Health at the Indian Health Service Headquarters. Selina began her federal career in 2005 as a Public Health Advisor for the Office of Public Health Support, Division of Epidemiology and Disease Prevention. She obtained her Master of Public Health degree from the University of New Mexico.