Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (PA-04) joins Representatives Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Ashley Hinson (R-IA) to introduce a bipartisan resolution, led by Rep. Wexton, that would designate February as “Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.” Teen dating violence – which can include physical violence, sexual violence, psychological aggression, and stalking – affects millions of teens each year.
“Making February Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month will bring a needed increase in attention to teen dating violence, so that teenagers can better understand healthy relationships in adolescence,” Rep. Dean said. “We must protect and equip our children with the knowledge and resources to safely navigate the dating world.”
“Too many teens are struggling in unhealthy dating relationships and don’t know where they can turn to for help,” Rep. Wexton said. “If teens facing violence in early relationships can’t get the resources they need to escape those situations, they could suffer long-lasting harm to their health and development. I’m leading the bipartisan effort in Congress to officially designate February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month to promote the importance of healthy relationships and help more teens, parents, and teachers recognize and understand teen dating violence.”
“Teen dating violence is a growing public health crisis amongst youth in our country that can no longer be ignored,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said. “The long-term consequences for teens involved in physically and emotionally abusive relationships are grim. It is critical that we take steps to empower victims, promote safe, healthy relationships, and educate the public on teen dating violence prevention and intervention.”
“More and more teens are subject to emotional and physical abuse in relationships—we are trending in the wrong direction. As a mom to two young boys, I am passionate about ensuring they treat others with respect and have healthy relationships as they grow into adolescence. I’m proud to work with Representatives Wexton, Fitzpatrick, and Dean to designate February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month—we’ll continue to work in a bipartisan way to increase awareness about this troubling trend and ensure parents and teens have the resources they need,” Rep. Hinson said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 1 in 11 high school females and 1 in 15 high school males report having experienced physical dating violence, and 1 in 9 high school females and 1 in 36 high school males report having experienced sexual dating violence. Particularly in recent years, technology-facilitated dating violence has been on the rise amongst teenagers, which include actions such as cyber extortion or posting private photos of a partner without their consent with the goal of public humiliation.
Unhealthy relationships that start early in life can lead to impacts on the survivor that last well into adulthood. Teens who experience dating violence are more likely to struggle with depression, anxiety, antisocial behavior, substance use, and suicidal thoughts. While dating violence can affect any teen, young women, racial and ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ+ teens can face disproportionate rates of violence.
Raising awareness about how to recognize dating violence and the importance of safe and healthy relationships is essential to help teens who face this abuse. Teens can face many challenges in reporting dating violence, including fears about disclosing violence to a parent or loved one which can lead to many teens suffering in silence. 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 live chat at loveisrespect.org.
The resolution is cosponsored by Representatives Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), Judy Chu (D-CA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Jake Ellzey (R-TX), Kaiali’i Kahele (D-HI), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Ted W. Lieu (D-CA), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Kathy Manning (D-NC), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Tom Reed (R-NY), Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), Jackie Speier (D-CA), and Dina Titus (D-NV).
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.