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Dating Abuse is Unacceptable – by Rodger Dinwiddie, Executive Director


Struggles with relationship issues have been on everyone’s mind lately with the unfortunate Tiger Woods situation.  However, many teens experience tension in their dating/partner relationships that can end with dating abuse or violence.  STARS (Students Taking A Right Stand) Nashville has several ways to help students make better choices.

Dating abuse is used to manipulate, gain control or power over someone making them feel bad about themselves and ultimately afraid of their boyfriend or girlfriend.  In a recent long-term study of dating abuse by National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health just under 10% of students reported experiencing physical violence from their dating partner and 29% had experienced psychological abuse.  The first incidence of dating violence often occurred by age 15 (Journal of Family Issues 4, no 3).

The pressures of the recent holiday season combined with our current economic problems also create more stress on relationships as well.  STARS specialists help teens recognize the difference between caring, supportive relationships and controlling, manipulative or abusive dating relationships through our SAFE DATES program, a nationally recognized, research-based dating and relationship program.

One way STARS helps teens look at this issue is through classroom presentations and educational sessions. For those young people with more serious questions, concerns or issues about dating violence STARS specialists offer small group and individual counseling sessions as well as follow up and support.  Finally, if the issues facing the student are severe, referrals will be made to community organizations who can provide additional levels of support and care.

It is important for adults to be trained on helping students with safe dating issues.  Through TEEN PEACE, STARS is in partnership with 70 schools throughout the Middle Tennessee area working to prevent dating abuse.  In addition, on January 13, 2010, 55 Tennessee educators and local community agency personnel from across the state participated in a SAFE DATES training designed to help students in middle and high schools address relational violence.  Our goal is to provide young people with knowledge and practical skills to develop healthy and safe relationships.  For more information, contact STARS at 615-279-0058 or email STARS at