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Anyone can be a victim of abuse in dating relationships: girls and boys; whites, African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, and Asians; students born in rich neighborhoods and students born in poor neighborhoods; people that come from abusive homes and people who do not; people who have dated a lot and people who have just begun dating. Children as young as twelve years old can become involved in abusive dating relationships. Dating abuse is a very real issue for many students:
- In the United States, approximately 12 percent of heterosexual high school boys and girls report having been physically victimized by a dating partner in the previous year. This percentage is as high as 40 percent in some areas of the country.
- Approximately 13 percent of gay adolescent girls and 9 percent of gay adolescent boys report having been physcially victimized by a dating partner in the previsou year.
- Victimization from psychological dating abuse is even higher, with approximately 29 percent of heterosexual high school students and 20 percent of gay high school students reporting having been psychologically abused by a date in the previous year.
- Dating abuse is beginning as early as the sixth grade.
- Adults who use violence with their dating partners often begin doing so during adolescence, with the first episode typically occuring by age fifteen.
- Rapes by acquaintances account for 60 percent of all rapes reported to rape crisis centers.
- Both girls and boys are victims of dating abuse, though girls receive more severe injuries from dating abuse than boys.
- Both girls and boys are perpetrators of dating abuse, though girls tend to use less sever forms of dating abuse than boys.
- Abuse almost always recurs in a relationship. It doesn't just go away.
- Most abuse gets more severe over time.
- The consequences of being a victim of dating abuse for boys and girls include depression, cigarette smoking, and suicide attempts. Additional consequences for girls are marijuana use, illicit substance use, and antisocial behavior; an additional consequence for boys is suicide ideation.
It is important young adults to be educated about the dangers of dating violence and abuse which led to Hazelden Publishing developing Safe Dates, a dating abuse prevention program. The goals of this program are to:
- Raise students' awareness of what constitutes healthy and abusive dating relationships.
- Raise students' awareness of dating abuse and its causes and consequences.
- Equip students with the skills and resources to help themselves or friends in abusive dating relationships.
- Equip students with the skills to develop healthy dating relationships, including positive communication, anger management, and conflict resolution.
Safe Dates can be used as a dating abuse prevention tool for both male and female middle and high school students. Safe Dates would fit well within a health education, family life skills, or general life skills curriculum.
Because dating abuse is often tied to the abuse of alcohol and other drugs, you may want to consider using Safe Dates in conjunction with drug and alcohol prevention programs, as well as any other general violence prevention programs.
(Information taken from Safe Dates Scope and Sequence)
Dating Violence ResourcesSafe Dates Scope and Sequence - An in-depth look at the scope and sequence of the Safe Dates program.
Safe Dates Overview - An overview of the Safe Dates program.
Safe Dates Funding Toolkit - Safe Dates Grant Writer's Tool Kit in Word format.