Legal and Psychological Approaches to Understanding and Addressing Teen Dating Violence

  • Victoria A. MauerEmail author
  • N. Dickon Reppucci
Part of the Advances in Psychology and Law book series (APL, volume 4)


This chapter examines the intersection of legal and psychological research relevant to juvenile dating relationships, with a focus on victimization and perpetration of sexual assault and intimate partner violence (IPV). To begin, the authors present an overview of the state of psychological research on male–female teen dating relationships focusing specifically on teen dating violence (TDV). In this overview, the authors review rates of perpetration and victimization of these acts in young people’s dating relationships, describe theoretical frameworks psychologists use to conceptualize TDV, and distinguish TDV from adult IPV. By providing the distinctions between adult and teenage IPV, the authors set a structure by which the chapter examines legal responses to TDV and the ways in which the law’s approach is and is not appropriate for addressing the distinct differences in dating violence perpetrated and experienced by juveniles. Specifically, the authors question whether juveniles’ relationships qualify them for protective orders and what provisions are appropriate for prosecuting statutory relationships. The chapter calls for legal scholars to understand and explore ways to incorporate psychology’s understanding of the emergent nature of adulthood in adolescence and how it addresses juveniles’ maturity to make legally sound decisions in the context of dating relationships. Finally, the chapter concludes with a call for TDV prevention and provides commentary on the need to address teens’ problematic perceptions and justifications for relationship abuse, the need to incorporate prevention programming in schools, and ways to approach prevention with teens’ peers, parents, and other significant adults.


Teen dating violence Prevention Adolescents Intimate partner violence Victimization Perpetration Juvenile justice 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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