1 in 3 youth in Canada experience physical, sexual and/or emotional violence in their romantic and sexual relationships, also known as adolescent dating violence (ADV). ADV affects youth of all sexes, sexualities, genders, and gender identities, but disproportionately affects marginalized youth, including Indigenous, Black, refugee, and 2SLGBTQIA+ youth, and youth living with disabilities.
In addition to occurring frequently, ADV is linked to numerous adverse health, social, and economic outcomes. Further, youth who experience ADV are significantly more likely to experience domestic violence in adulthood. ADV is thus a serious public health problem in Canada and violates youths’ right to safe and healthy development.
PREVNet is leading a letter campaign to the Canadian federal government calling for the development of youth-centred policy that specifically addresses ADV. The letter has received support from 22 youth / gender-based violence-centered organizations across Canada.
At a minimum, youth-centered ADV policy needs to:
- Clarify the roles and responsibilities of educators, caregivers, and other significant adults in responding to adolescent dating violence
- Provide written and financial support for evidence-informed, developmentally appropriate, and equity-centered dating violence prevention programs
- Fund training initiatives for gender-based violence service providers on youth-centered models for dating violence prevention and support
- Fund longitudinal data collection on adolescent dating violence, to understand long-term outcomes in the Canadian context and to guide prevention activities
All children and youth have the right to be safe in their homes, at school, in their communities, and online. Through the development and implementation of ADV policy, we can support youth’s rights to safety and well-being.