What to say:

  • I’m glad that you told me about this
  • This is important
  • I want you to be safe
  • Let’s make sure you get the help you need right now
  • It’s not your fault
  • You deserve to be treated with respect in your relationship
  • I am here if you ever need help or want to talk


  • Listen
  • Be honest about your ability to keep information confidential or not
  • Be specific in your concerns (especially if you have witnessed abusive behaviors)
  • Ask questions
  • Challenge your student to see the warning signs in his/her relationship
  • Allow your student to make his/her own decisions about the relationship
  • Tell your student what you are required to do under the law or school policy
  • Report any concerns to the Athletic Director
  • Reach out to community organizations to educate yourself on the issue
  • Urge your student to seek help
  • Familiarize yourself with your school’s dating violence policy
  • Educate all your students about dating violence
  • Continue to check in with the student throughout the school year and beyond


  • Be judgmental about your student’s relationship or choices
  • Try to take control of the situation, unless an emergency requires you to
  • Ignore the red flags you see – say something
  • Make assumptions about how your student wants to handle an abusive relationship
  • Minimize the abuse or the importance of the relationship
  • Assume that because the relationship is new or casual the abuse is minor
  • Assume that the student is heterosexual
  • Share a student’s private information with unnecessary people or talk about students in public areas of the school
  • Assume that younger teens are not dating
  • Show shock or disapproval if your student tells you about his/her sexual activities
  • Blame your student for remaining in the relationship

(Adapted from Break the Cycle, Safe Schools Resource Manual)


How do I know if one of my students is experiencing violence in a relationship? The warning signs of dating violence will not always be dramatic, but if you know what to look for you might be able to identify an abusive relationship before it becomes dangerous. You can also help your students identify warning signs of dating violence in their own relationships. Look for these red flags:

  • Problems with school attendance, particularly if this is a new problem
  • Lack of interest in former extracurricular activities
  • Sudden request for a change in schedule
  • Unexplained changes in behavior, grades, or quality of schoolwork
  • Noticeable change in weight, demeanor, or physical appearance
  • Isolation from former friends
  • Little social contact with anyone but the dating partner
  • Unexplained bruises or injuries
  • Making excuses or apologizing for the dating partner’s inappropriate behavior
  • New disciplinary problems at school, such as bullying other students or acting out
  • Name-calling or belittling from a dating partner

Help your students recognize these warning signs:

  • Checking your cell phone or email without permission
  • Constant put-downs
  • Extreme jealousy or insecurity
  • Explosive temper
  • Making false accusations
  • Mood swings
  • Physically hurting you in any way
  • Possessiveness
  • Telling their partner what to do