While child sexual abuse is certainly a prevalent problem, so is adolescent relationship abuse, commonly known as teen dating violence. Adolescent relationship abuse encompasses not only taking advantage of a partner sexually, but can also mean emotional abuse, coercion, humiliation, and physical violence. In a national survey, 69% of youth 12-18 years old reported being victimized by adolescent relationship abuse, while 63% of the same reported perpetrating it.
Adolescent relationship abuse already has proven mental health interventions that can make schools a safer place for youth, and can foster understanding among children regarding boundaries and relationship health. However, many schools are reluctant to allow mental health programs in their schools.
While our understanding of adolescent relationship abuse is still developing, we can improve this issue by contacting school administrators to ask for programs like Shifting Boundaries to address adolescent relationship abuse. Many of these interventions are free or low-cost to schools.