Teen Dating Violence: What Church Leaders Need to Know

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If you work with young people in your congregation, you would benefit from an increased awareness of teen dating violence. The Faith Trust Institute devotes a section of its website to this important topic. As well, this website offers a number of resources to work with teens to help them identify what makes for healthy relationships.

According to the Faith Trust Institute, “Dating violence refers to a pattern of actual or threatened acts of physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse perpetrated by an adolescent against a current or former dating partner.”

Abuse may include:

  • verbal abuse
  • threats
  • sexual harassment
  • coercion
  • acts of physical abuse
  • sexual abuse

“The abusive teen uses this pattern of violent and coercive behavior ... [in] dating relationship, in order to gain power and maintain control over the dating partner,” the website explains.

Ending Violence in Teen Dating Relationships

The Faith Trust Institute also offers a book entitled Ending Violence in Teen Dating Relationships by Al Miles. In this book Miles, a nationally recognized expert in the field of domestic and teen relationship violence awareness, teaches parents, educators, and pastors about the abuse tactics being used against their teens. Miles helps readers understand how offenders use popular culture and Christian traditions to excuse and justify their violence. Throughout the book, Miles provides key strategies to build bridges with the teens in their lives and protect them, in order to end violence in teen dating relationships.

Also worth checking out is the “Youth Declaration by Religious and Spiritual Leaders to Address Youth Relationship Violence,”  which calls on church leaders to “commit to prioritize our time, talents and resources to fully address youth relationship violence and exposure to domestic violence.” This resource may inspire you and other church leaders about what you can do to promote healthy relationships among your teens, reducing their risk of exposure to dating violence.

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Thank you for this useful information Rachel.