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Public Awareness

Though slow to gain recognition as a policy and health concern, teen dating violence has recently gained more recognition as a pressing social problem in the United States. For example, in 2006, the first National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Week was held. This nationwide initiative was designed to increase public awareness and education of the prevalence of dating violence among teens in the United States.

With Senate Resolution 373 (S. Res. 373), February 2010 was designated Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. By establishing this month-long commitment to the issue in 2010, the Senate voted unanimously to “support communities in empowering teens to develop healthier relationships throughout their lives; and call upon the people of the United States, including youth, parents, schools, law enforcement, state and local officials, and interested groups to observe National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month with appropriate programs and activities that promote awareness and prevention of teen dating violence in their communities.”1

In January 2011, the President proclaimed February to be National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.2 According to the United States Department of Justice, this annual designation will help the department “focus on the necessary and possible ways to identify and change relationships that are abusive, controlling and difficult to discuss, especially among our youth.”3

In response to the recent attention of the Congress and the President on teen dating violence, more states are paying closer attention to the issue. As of May 2011, at least 14 states had laws that urge or require school boards to develop curriculum on teen dating violence, and at least another eight states had introduced relevant legislation.4

1 United States Congress, 2010
2 The White House, 2011
3 United States Department of Justice, 2011
4 National Conference of State Legislatures, 2011

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