The U.S. Senate recently designated February as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. This is a change from the previous National Teen Dating and Violence Awareness and Prevention Week that Congress has observed since 2004.1
Digital dating abuse is a growing problem among teens. The digital environment has a significant impact on teen dating, particularly with break-ups and sexual extortion. In a story printed during last year’s Awareness and Prevention Week, The New York Times reported that 25 percent of teenagers in relationships said they had been harassed or called names by their boyfriend or girlfriend through cell phone or text message. 2
We encourage parents to do more to be aware of digital dating abuse in the lives of their teens. We recommend three keys to success for parents:
KEEP CURRENT with the technology your child uses.
KEEP COMMUNICATING with your teen about everything they experience through connected technologies.
KEEP CHECKING their cell phone and Internet activity. Review text messages and Internet histories. Let them know that you will keep checking because you want to help them protect their digital reputation.
1 “Associate Attorney General Perrelli, Senators Announce Passage of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month Resolution” (28 January, 2010). Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs. Retrieved from http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/January/10-asg-091.html
2 Clifford, Stephanie. “Teaching Teenagers about Harassment” (26 January, 2010). The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/business/media/27adco.html