Articles

Addressing the Lethal Intersection of Teen Dating Violence and Firearms  

By Jennifer M. Becker, Esq. Director, National Center on Gun Violence in Relationships  and Project Director, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and Firearms 

As we mark Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month 2024, it’s sobering to think of all the teens and families impacted since we last commemorated this just one year ago. Too commonly, teen relationships are passed off as inconsequential and that abuse in teen relationships is seen as less serious. While dating during teenage years might look different than dating as an adult, abuse by teen partners is just as dangerous. Each year in the U.S. nearly 1.5 million high school students are subjected to violence by an intimate partner. In 2023, a 17-year old Virginia teen was killed after obtaining a no-contact order through her school.  And a 15-year old Colorado teen was murdered by her boyfriend after reporting physical abuse to police. And a 14-year old Wisconsin teen killed by her boyfriend after trying to end the relationship. All three of them were killed with a gun. They are not alone.  

Easy access to firearms in the U.S. increases the dangerousness of teen dating violence. In recent years, firearms caused more deaths among children 17 and under than any other injury or illness—more than car accidents, more than cancer—a rate that rose 50% between 2019 and 2021. In the teen dating violence context, more than 60% of adolescents killed by an intimate partner are killed with a gun.  

This Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month we can focus on strategies that increase prevention and intervention. We can educate our youth and our communities about the realities of teen dating violence and the risks posed by it. We can increase services geared towards youth. We can ensure systems, particularly protection order courts, are accessible to youth and take them seriously. We can implement effective policies and practices that reduce access to guns for youth and abusive partners. We know these efforts are effective. For example, domestic violence protection orders that order firearm surrender contribute a 9% reduction in intimate partner homicides facilitated by guns.  

Please join us during this month and throughout the year as we work to stop Teen Dating Violence through the work of our Centers addressing various forms of dating violence and firearms violence. www.bwjp.org  

For more information on teen dating violence, we encourage you to visit https://loveisrespect.org/.    

For more information on the intersection of domestic and dating violence and firearms, and to stay up to date on our work, please visit our National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and Firearms https://www.preventdvgunviolence.org/.  

TAGS: #BWJP Announcements #Children and Teens #Firearms #Gender Based Violence #News

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