Teen Dating Violence Awareness: Three Warning Signs Your Student is Experiencing Abuse and Three Things You Can Do to Help

Guest Post by Emily Treas from NCADV

Did you know that one in three teens is abused physically, sexually, emotionally or verbally by a dating partner? As an educator, you are likely already in contact with students who are being abused by their partner or who know someone who is, whether they have revealed the abuse to you or not.

Often educators feel unequipped to recognize the warning signs of abuse and provide support and resources to students facing dating violence.

Warning Signs Your Student May Be Experiencing Dating Violence

Teens who are being abused rarely disclose their abuse to an adult. Because of this, it can take an observant social worker or teacher to see the signs of abuse at school and in the classroom. While some signs may seem obvious, others are less easily identifiable.

Three warning signs of teen dating abuse identifiable in the classroom

1.  Your student’s physical appearance changes:

  • Your student begins to have unexplained or sudden illnesses
  • They begin to wear more makeup or stop wearing makeup all together
  • They start wearing baggier clothes
  • They seem passive or withdrawn
  • You notice frequent bruising
  • They begin self-harming behaviors such as cutting, hair pulling, etc.

2.  Your student’s dating relationship lacks balance:

  • Your student excessively checks in/texts and/or sends photos to their partner to prove where they are, or may seemed stressed about doing so
  • They make excuses for their partner’s behavior
  • You observe extreme jealousy between your student and their partner

3.  Your student’s behavior with peers and in the classroom changes:

  • You observe a loss of friendships and general isolation of your student
  • They are often late or do not attend class
  • They seem worried that their dating partner may show up or know where they are because they attend class
  • They seem unable to concentrate, are passive, compliant or withdrawn
  • They have newly failing grades

What can you do if you believe one of your students is being abused by their partner?

  1. Focus on being a safe and stable presence in your student’s day. While they may never disclose to you that they are being abused, you may be helping them more than you know by just allowing them the space to breathe and rest.
  2. Let your school’s social worker, psychologist, or counselor know about your suspicions privately and in a respectful and fact-based manner. These professionals are trained in issues of teen dating abuse and will be able to follow up with your student.
  3. Teach your students how to Take a Stand FOR Healthy Relationships and incorporate teen dating violence awareness resources from NCADV into your classroom. Find out more about the resources available to teens experiencing abuse, have those resources available to all students and encourage your administration to explore the resources.

Want to learn more?

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), in collaboration with Discovery Education, has recently created a curriculum aimed at equipping teachers and students with the tools, resources, and knowledge they need to Take a Stand FOR Healthy Relationships.


Take A Stand FOR Healthy Relationships empowers young people by providing middle and high school classrooms with educational resources and immersive program tools, including self-paced modules and interactive lesson plans, to encourage young learners to exercise skills in communication and self-awareness as they develop friendships and relationships of their own. Get started today and explore our curriculum at teens4healthyrelationships.com.


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