WASHINGTON, DC – Today — Valentine's Day — U.S. Representatives Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Ashley Hinson (R-IA) introduced a bipartisan resolution to officially designate February as “Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.” The resolution recognizes the damaging effects that teen dating violence has on young Americans and the importance of developing healthy relationship practices during formative teenage years.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that nearly 1 in 11 high school girls and 1 in 15 high school boys are affected by teen dating violence, which includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological aggression, and stalking, making it one of the most pervasive dangers to young people in the country. This abuse can have devastating consequences to teenagers’ development and short- and long-term well-being, including being more likely to experience depression and anxiety, engage in unhealthy activities like drug and alcohol use, and exhibit antisocial behaviors like lying, theft, and bullying.

“Teen dating violence is a terrible but relatively unknown public health crisis in our country,” Rep. Dean said. “By designating February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, we are recognizing the unfortunate prevalence of dating violence amongst teenagers and taking steps to reduce and prevent it. I’m grateful to Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, and Congresswoman Ashley Hinson for their work on this important measure to protect our communities.”

“As a former domestic violence prosecutor and advocate for abuse survivors, I understand how important it is to break the cycle of violence early on and help our young people learn and grow in healthy relationships,” Rep. Wexton said. “I’m proud to lead this bipartisan effort to raise awareness of the dating violence and abuse, especially online and on social media, that millions of teens across the country are suffering from today. It is essential that we empower young people and their parents and loved ones to recognize and remove themselves from harmful relationships to prepare teens for happier, healthier futures.”

“An alarming number of American high schoolers report experiencing teen dating violence and abuse in relationships. As a mom of two soon-to-be teenagers, I am passionate about ensuring both parents and teens have the resources they need to recognize the signs of abusive relationships and promote healthy ones. This is even more important with kids interacting on social media, which can too often turn into a dark avenue for abuse and exploitation. I’m proud to co-lead this bipartisan effort with Congresswoman Wexton," Rep. Hinson said.

While dating violence can impact any teen, young women, some racial and ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ+ teens experience higher risk of violence. Challenges with opening up about dating violence to friends and family can cause many teenagers to suffer in silence and not receive the help that they need.

The resolution seeks to help break the cycle of violence by raising awareness of this issue and empowering teens to develop healthy relationships. If you or a teen or parent you know would like to speak to a trained peer advocate, you can contact the National Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474, text “loveis” to 22522, or livechat at loveisrespect.org.

The resolution is also cosponsored by Representatives Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Debbie Dingell (D-MI),  Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Andrea Salinas (D-OR), Adam Schiff (D-CA),  Jill Tokuda (D-HI), and David Trone (D-MD).

The full text of the resolution can be found here.

Rep. Madeleine Dean is a mother, grandmother, attorney, professor, former four-term member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and U.S. Representative for the Fourth District of Pennsylvania.