Teens often think some behaviors, like teasing and name calling, are a "normal" part of a relationship.However, these behaviors can become abusive and develop into more serious forms of violence.Teen dating violence [PDF 187KB] is defined as the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence within a dating relationship, including stalking. Teen dating violence (physical and sexual) among US high school students: Findings from the 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey. As teens develop emotionally, they are heavily influenced by experiences in their relationships.

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Preventive Services Task Force does not recommend for or against screening for family and intimate partner violence, but it is important to note that this recommendation does not specifically recognize adolescent dating relationships or adolescent dating violence.7 The American Academy of Family Physicians policy statement on adolescent care states, “In meeting our ethical obligations to our adolescent patients…we rely on our professional judgment, informed by clinical assessment, training, and experience, to address a patient's health conditions or a sensitive situation.”8 Thus, even in the absence of outcomes evidence, family physicians should be prepared to support adolescents in their development of healthy relationships, be able to identify those who are experiencing dating violence, and educate adolescents and parents about this issue.

Approximately 50 percent of adolescents reported victimization from controlling behaviors by a dating partner.59 Few studies have specifically examined adolescent dating violence in those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender; however, data suggest that these adolescents experience the same rates of dating violence as their heterosexual peers.6Unfortunately, many adolescents in abusive relationships do not seek help.

In one study, only 44 percent of female and 32 percent of male adolescent victims, and 17 percent of female and 33 percent of male adolescent perpetrators sought help.9 When adolescents did seek help, whether perpetrators or victims, they most often disclosed the abuse to peers, with only one third confiding in parents.59 Data show that parents and physicians are not inquiring about this issue as they do about other behaviors, such as sexual activity and drug use.

Sexual violence can affect adolescents in dating relationships; however, dating violence also includes bullying, harassment, and other controlling behaviors that are not often required to be reported to authorities. Contact [email protected] copyright questions and/or permission requests.

Although there are similarities between adult and adolescent relationship violence, there are some notable differences, including fewer legal protections afforded to adolescents.4 Local domestic violence agencies are good resources for state-specific legal information and information about local community-and school-focused adolescent dating violence prevention programs. Halpern CT, Young ML, Waller MW, Martin SL, Kupper LL. US Preventive Services Task Force Screening for family and intimate partner violence Rockville, Md: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; March 2004.

Family physicians are in an ideal position to break the cycle of violence through awareness and identification of abuse in dating relationships, and by educating adolescents and their parents about the possibility of abuse. Dating violence against adolescent girls and associated substance use, unhealthy weight control, sexual risk behavior, pregnancy, and suicidality. Prevalence of partner violence in same-sex romantic and sexual relationships in a national sample of adolescents.

Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime.

A lack of knowledge and outcomes evidence contributes to the fact that health care professionals are missing the chance to identify and intervene in one of the more common and serious health problems faced by adolescents.512It is important that family physicians be aware of the possibility of dating violence among adolescents and be able to provide a supportive environment in which adolescents may feel comfortable disclosing issues of relationship violence.

A variety of questions can be used to initiate a discussion about dating violence, including asking if adolescents are in a dating relationship; if they ever feel threatened in the relationship; and if they know of peers who experience dating violence.4 This allows physicians to work further with those who are in abusive relationships, and to provide anticipatory guidance to parents and adolescents.

Clinical signs that adolescents may be experiencing dating violence include physical signs of injury, problems at school, poor self-esteem, and changes in mood or personality.34The Family Violence Prevention Fund has developed resources that physicians can use to assess the risk of experiencing violence and to educate and empower adolescents.4 Family physicians should be familiar with the youth violence reporting requirements in their state. Copyright © 2010 by the American Academy of Family Physicians. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference.

Suspected abuse of adolescents by their guardians and all forms of sexual assault are reportable in every state, but the definition of consensual adolescent sexual activity varies by state. Adolescents, protecting: ensuring access to care and reporting sexual activity and abuse (position paper). This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP.