Take Action Against Abuse - For Schools


  • Nearly half of students who experience dating violence say some of the abuse took place on school grounds. [i] In one recent school year, nearly 4,000 reported incidents of sexual battery and 800 reported rapes and attempted rapes occurred in our nation’s public high schools.  By the time girls graduate from high school, more than one in ten will have been physically forced to have sexual intercourse in or out of school.  Relatively few schools, however, have written policies governing safety, security, and intervention with youth experiencing dating violence. 
  • One study in particular indicated an increase in the prevalence of dating violence as grades in school became poorer, with the prevalence lowest among adolescents earning mostly As and highest among those earning mostly Cs, Ds, and Fs. [ii]
  • Every school needs to be equipped to respond to teen dating violence and sexual assault. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity.  In April 2011, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights released a letter to schools explaining that the requirements of Title IX that relate to sexual harassment also cover sexual violence.  The letter reminds schools of their responsibilities to take immediate and effective steps to end sexual harassment and sexual violence. To learn more about the Title IX requirements, you can read the Department of Education’s letter here.

Warning Signs

These “red flags” should alert you to the possibility that a student is a victim or is at risk of becoming a victim of dating violence: [iii]

  • Depression
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies that were once enjoyable
  • Making excuses for a dating partner's behavior
  • Noticeable changes in eating or sleeping patterns, or alcohol or drug use
  • Loss of self-confidence

These behaviors may indicate that a student is a perpetrator or is at risk of becoming a perpetrator of dating violence:

  • Threatening to hurt others in any way
  • Ignoring or insulting a dating partner in public or private
  • Constantly calling or texting to check up on a dating partner
  • Damaging or destroying a dating partner's personal belongings
  • Attempting to control what a dating partner wears

How Teachers, Administrators and School Staff Can Help

  • Educate yourself about dating violence and sexual assault. Train teachers, counselors, nurses and administrators how to respond to instances of dating violence and sexual assault.
  • Familiarize yourself with your district’s policies on dating violence and sexual assault. If your school district doesn’t have policies related to dating violence and sexual assault, work with your local school board to create them.
  • Talk to your students about healthy relationships. Provide educational materials and resources.
  • Develop a school environment that is open and receptive to student concerns.
  • Encourage positive student and parent interactions.
  • Volunteer with your school's violence-prevention group(s). If none exist, offer to create one.

For More Information

[i] National Research Center for Women and Families. November 2004. American Youth Work Center. September 2008.

[ii] CDC, YRBS 2008

[iii] CDC, Choose Respect