CALL 713.222.TIPS (8477)

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

dreamstime xxl 44669352 Houston Crime StoppersFor the month of February, Crime Stoppers focuses on the issue of Teen Dating Violence (TDV). Also called intimate partner violence, TDV includes physical, psychological, sexual, and electronic abuse, and can happen with a current or former partner.  Teens often think some behaviors, like teasing and name-calling, are a “normal” part of a relationship, but these behaviors can become abusive and develop into serious forms of violence. Other common forms of TDV include:

  • sending repeated and unwanted messages
  • cyberstalking (constantly checking location via social media or another app)
  • pressuring a partner to perform sexual acts or send explicit pictures
  • frequently criticizing and humiliating their partner
  • refusing to take accountability for their bad actions
  • forbidding a partner from talking to certain people
  • spreading rumors about sexual activity
  • going through a partner’s phone without permission

Many teens do not report unhealthy behaviors. 33% of adolescents in America experience some form of dating abuse, but only one-third of students experiencing TDV ever report it1. Part of that is due to students not recognizing the forms of abuse they see, but another reason is because of the fear and stigma around being victimized by a partner. At Crime Stoppers, not only do we seek to prevent violence in our community, but we are also here to support those that have been, or are currently being, victimized. For victims of TDV, it is important to remember that there are ways to keep yourself safe from your abuser, even at school.

Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits gender-based discrimination in any school receiving federal funding, including all public K-12 schools and most universities2. Under this law, sexual harassment and other forms of dating violence are illegal. Schools have a legal obligation to respond to any reported cases of TDV and ensure that they are providing a safe environment for all of their students in class, during field trips, and even on school buses. Under Title IX, schools have a responsibility to be proactive in ensuring their campus is free from sex discrimination by having the following:

  1. readily available policy against sex discrimination
  2. procedure for students to file complaints, and
  3. Title IX coordinator on campus to whom reports of discrimination can be made

Upon receiving a report of discrimination, schools must take immediate action. Even if the police are conducting their own investigation, schools are required to investigate separately. Schools must also take the necessary steps to ensure the victim is protected against retaliation from the alleged attacker, their friends, and faculty. Upon completion of their independent investigation, schools must notify the student how the complaint was resolved. Possible resolutions include transferring the attacker to another school, expelling them, or issuing a no-contact order.

Under no circumstances is a school allowed to punish a student that reports discrimination – they shall not force them to change schools, leave a team, or change an extracurricular activity, nor are they allowed to “run out the clock” on a complaint.

As always, prevention is key. Title IX exists as a resource for those that have already been victimized, but preventing all forms of violence, and keeping children and youth safe, is paramount. By modeling respectful relationships – having healthy disagreements, setting boundaries, communicating honestly – and interrupting dating violence when we see it, we can ensure teenagers experience relationships that are happy, fun, and safe.


  1. org, 2014
  2. ACLU, 2011

Posted by Joshua Webb, Program Coordinator - Crime Stoppers of Houston on 26 Jan 2023