Federal Law Strengthens its Focus on Preventing and Addressing Teen Dating Violence

Teens on a date.

Last year’s reauthorization of the federal law that provides funding for domestic violence shelters and programs strengthens the focus on their efforts to prevent and address teen dating violence. The reauthorized Family Violence Prevention and Services Act’s primary purposes include preventing dating violence and domestic violence as well as providing shelter and a supportive services for victims of abuse. The reauthorization also strengthens the law’s role in responding to children and youth exposed to violence at home.

“The provisions of the reauthorization are not a change in focus, but rather an affirmation of the work our grantees have been doing to support victims of domestic and dating violence of all ages and to work with children growing up in homes where vioence occurs,” says Marylouise Kelley, who directs the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act grant programs for the Family and Youth Services Bureau.

For example, she says, many of the 1,675 domestic violence programs funded through FVPSA formula grants to states and Tribes already provide services to victims of dating violence, including teens. The Act’s newly added dating violence definition, which is based on that of the Violence Against Women Act, should enhance efforts to make services for dating violence victims across the country more available.

Similarly, a new grant program intended to provide services for children and youth exposed to domestic violence builds on demonstration programs conducted over the past few years. Should funding for the FVPSA Program increase over current levels, a portion of the funds will be dedicated to support this program, which will focus on supporting abused parents and their children to ameliorate the affect of domestic violence on children and strengthen abused parents’ relationships with them.

The law’s expanded focus on stopping family and relationship violence before it happens builds on significant teen-dating-violence education efforts. Last year, FVPSA-funded programs made 60,000 anti-relationship-violence presentations to about 2.7 million young people across the nation, as well as doing other preventive work with teens and adults.

More information about the FVPSA program
The National Network to End Domestic Violence’s analysis of the reauthorization

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