Young people experiencing abuse have different problems than adults. We work to change laws and policies, so every young person can leave an unhealthy or abusive relationship safely. Help us bring state and federal laws in line with the needs of young people.
Download our advocacy toolkit to start asking for policy change in your community, state, or nation!
Protection orders (sometimes called restraining orders) are one of the most effective legal tools to help someone escape an abusive relationship. However, in many states, protection orders are not available to young people experiencing abuse. Some laws only allow survivors to request a protection order if they are 18 years old or older. Other laws only allow certain people (like spouses, cohabitants, or people who have a child with their abuser) to request a protection order, leaving many young people abused by a dating partner unable to request protection. We work to change these laws to ensure that minors, as well as others in dating relationships, can file for protective orders when needed to keep them safe.
- Young people experiencing abuse need more:
- Free help services designed specifically for youth
- Training and education within systems that serve youth (like shelters, courts, schools, and criminal justice systems), so adults can meet the needs of teens and young adults in an informed and sensitive way
- Batterers’ intervention programs that are designed for young people and don’t require a court order to attend
We work to increase funding for these programs and improve their effectiveness.
Not everyone has a supportive parent. Some young people cannot seek help from their parents because of physical or emotional abuse in their homes. Others may fear parental anger, disappointment, or punishment. Mandatory parental involvement laws are laws that require a parent’s consent to file for a protective order or require or allow for parental notification when a minor seeks medical or other services related to dating violence. These laws are not a good solution for family communication problems -- in fact, they can exacerbate a potentially dangerous situation. While these laws may be well-intentioned, they often discourage young people from getting any help at all.
We advocate for lawmakers to let minors:
- Access healthcare for relationship abuse and access Crime Victims' Compensation Programs without parental consent or notification
- Get protection orders without parental involvement
Parents, schools, media, young people, community leaders – we all have an important role in protecting young people and preventing abuse.
We fight to ensure we have the resources to work together by advocating for policies that fund:
- Schools to collaborate with community advocates in developing and implementing comprehensive policies that protect students and comply with Title IX
- Training for community leaders, teachers, and parents on how to educate youth about dating violence, model healthy relationship skills, and recognize when intervention is needed
- Youth activism and peer education programs that focus on healthy relationship skills
- Prevention campaigns that bring advocates and media sources together to promote healthy relationships and discourage abusive behaviors.
- Train judges and criminal justice personnel on the special needs of young dating violence survivors, including how technology is used to perpetrate violence in young people’s lives