Teens Talk about Sexting Pressures During National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

loveisrespect National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline Offers Advice to Teens Nationwide


Austin, Texas—Sexting, the most under-reported crime of teen dating violence takes center stage during February, National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. “Teens are being pressured into taking pictures that can be embarrassing or revealing. A boyfriend or girlfriend often threatens that if you don’t take the picture, I will find someone else who will. It’s that kind of harassment and hurtful threats that teens are pressured into doing today and they need advice,” said Megan Guilbeaux, National Teen Dating Helpline advocate. Guilbeaux counsels teens that call in and send chats about sexting and digital harassment. The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline (NTDAH) based in Austin, provides the only 24-hour teen chat line in the country where trained teen advocates give advice to other teens.

“Dating abuse is something that is not normally talked about or discussed, “ said Sheryl Cates, CEO of the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline. “Loveis respect.org and the teen chat line is a great tool that gives a voice to teens about recognizing the signs of abuse and how to prevent it before it begins.”

A 2008 survey on Tween and Teen dating relationships conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU) ad commissioned by Liz Claiborne inc. and the National Teen Dating Abuse helpline explores how relationships among young adolescents are fueling high levels of dating violence and abuse. The data reveals that early sexual experiences can be a precursor to dating violence and abuse among older teens. For example, among American teens who had sex by age 14, one out of three teens (34%) say they have been physically abused (hit, kicked or choked) by an angry partner compared to 20% of other teens. 69% of teens who had sex before 14 said they had experienced all aspects of dating abuse including verbal, emotional, physical and mental abuse.

“It is critical to raise awareness about teen dating violence, and to let teens know the red flags of an unhealthy relationship, as well as what healthy relationships should be,” said Gloria A. Terry, President of the Texas Council on Family Violence. “Hitting, slapping, pushing and controlling behavior, like repeated text messages and telling you what to wear and who to hang out with are signs of danger in a relationship.”
The Texas Council on Family Violence and the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline (NTDAH) in partnership with the Texas Attorney General sent toolkits to every high school across Texas to help high schools meet the requirements of Texas House Bill 121 and educate teens about teen dating abuse. According to dating statistics, 75 percent of Texas teens have reported experiencing dating abuse or knowing someone who has; and 1-in-2 Texas teens reported having experienced dating violence or abuse personally.

The month of February also marks the third anniversary of loveisrespect, the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline. The Helpline and website are designed for teens so they can speak or chat with a peer or adult about their fears and get immediate assistance.

Austin area high school students are also volunteering their time to raise awareness and funding for the teen helpline. On April 10 at the Austin Country Club, GETMAD (Girls Engaged in Making a Difference) and GENTS (Guys Exhibiting Needed Traits in Society), Westlake High School student service organizations, will model prom day attire from Dillard’s for the third annual “A Day to Shine” fashion show to benefit the teen helpline. There will also be a fashion show and gala that evening at the country club.

About Loveisrespect
NDVH launched loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline in 2007, to serve as a source of support and resources for teens involved in dating abuse relationships, their peers, parents, teachers, and friends. The Helpline offers new and innovative services to teens across the country who are experiencing dating abuse and those who are looking to engage in healthy relationships by utilizing technologies that teens use most often: the telephone, web, and chat. Young men and women can anonymously contact trained peer-to-peer advocates by telephone, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. at 1-866-331-9474 or www.loveisrespect.org to chat (IM style) .