Tips for parents and teens to foster healthy relationships and prevent teen dating violence

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During Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (February), Daphne King, EdD, associate professor of Social Work, shares tips for parents and teens to help teens have safe and healthy relationships.

Daphne King

Nearly half (43%) of U.S. college women report experiencing violent or abusive dating behaviors, and 1 in 3 U.S. teens will experience abusive behavior before they become adults, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

During Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (February), George Mason University researcher Daphne King, EdD, assistant professor in the Department of Social Work, continues to bring awareness to intimate partner violence in young people.

“By fostering healthy, supportive relationships, having open communication, and educating adolescents on detecting signs of dating violence, we can help prevent teen dating violence before it starts,” said King.

Teen dating violence has a lifelong impact on a person’s health and can be detrimental to a person’s physical and emotional well-being. Physical, sexual, and psychological violence and stalking are all forms of dating violence and can lead to antisocial behaviors and symptoms of depression, anxiety, substance misuse, as well as future unhealthy relationships.

King shares tips for parents and teens on creating healthy relationships and preventing teen dating violence. She previously shared 10 Warning Signs of Teen Dating Violence and is available for further comment on teen dating violence and adolescent mental health.

Tips for Teens

  • Learn about teen dating violence and how to detect the warning signs
  • Talk openly with partners, friends, and parents about healthy relationships
  • Know that violence (physical, verbal, or emotional) has no place in a healthy relationship
  • Respect yourself and others
  • Develop a healthy sense of who you are and self-esteem
  • Be aware that victims can be any gender, sexual orientation, and race
  • Get consent before touching a partner
  • Discuss and communicate your boundaries with your partner
  • Know that you are worthy of healthy relationships
  • Stand up for others

Tips for Parents

  • Talk honestly and openly with your teen about what healthy relationships look like and that violence (verbal, physical, or sexual) has no place in a healthy relationship
  • Know and recognize the signs of abuse, as well as the facts about dating violence
  • Discuss teen dating violence with your child and help them learn the warning signs
  • Model healthy relationships
  • Talk about teen dating violence with other parents to help reduce the stigma

There are many resources available if you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner or dating violence—talk to a trusted adult or visit for support and help. You can also visit for additional resources.


Dr. Daphne King is an assistant professor and Master of Social Work online program director in the Social Work Department of George Mason University’s College of Public Health. King’s research interests are self-esteem issues in teens and adolescents, mental health concerns and treatment modalities for women of color, specifically African-American women, and the impact engagement in Christianity or spiritual practices have on self-esteem. King is an expert in treating teens and adolescents with self-esteem issues and depression and has facilitated numerous clinical and psychoeducational groups on self-esteem issues for teens.

To speak with Dr. King, contact Mary Cunningham at 703-993-1931 or

About Mason

George Mason University, Virginia’s largest public research university, enrolls 39,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason has grown rapidly over the last half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity, and commitment to accessibility.

About the College of Public Health at George Mason University

The College of Public Health at George Mason University is the first and only College of Public Health in Virginia, combining public health transdisciplinary research, education, and practice in the Commonwealth as a national exemplar. The College enrolls more than 1,900 undergraduate and 1,300 graduate students in our nationally recognized programs, including six undergraduate degrees, eight master’s degrees, five doctoral degrees, and six professional certificate programs. The College is comprised of the School of Nursing and the Departments of Global and Community Health, Health Administration and Policy, Nutrition and Food Studies, and Social Work.