Apps Help Prevent Teen Dating Violence

Screen shot of web app on a smartphone.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, a chance for youth workers to teach young people about healthy relationships and how to protect themselves from physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Research shows that teen dating violence not only affects young people while it's happening. It also can lead to health problems like eating disorders and suicidal thoughts later on in life.

We decided to test two smartphone applications designed to prevent dating violence and sexual abuse by quickly connecting youth to emergency help. The apps, Circle of 6 and OnWatch, were winners of the Apps Against Abuse technology challenge issued by the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services in 2011. Although both tools are primarily geared toward college students, we think they may be useful for high-school and out-of-school youth, too.

  Circle of 6 OnWatch
Available For iPhone, Android iPhone, Android
Cost Free Free 30-day trial, $4.99 monthly or $49.99 annually
Number of friends users can select to receive alerts Six Three
Emergency numbers Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence 911, campus police, friends
GPS feature Yes Yes
Sample alerts "Come and get me. I need help getting home safely" (includes GPS location); "Call me and pretend you need me. I need an interruption" "I need help" (includes GPS location)
Option to let friends know you reached your destination safely Yes Yes
Other Link to Users can set a timer if they're in a potentially unsafe place, like a parking garage; if a password isn’t entered after the time is up, an emergency alert is set off
9-5 pm Eastern