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Policies Impacting Children, Youth, & Young Adults

Young people are affected by dating and domestic violence as both victims and witnesses.

Approximately 15.5 children are exposed to domestic violence every year. On just one day in 2013, 19,431 children were living in a domestic violence shelter or transitional housing program, and an additional 5,873 children received services and support from non-residential programs. One-quarter of high school age girls have been the victims of physical or sexual abuse. Women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of domestic and dating violence victimization. And one in four college-aged women has been sexually assaulted.

For children, youth, and young adults who witness abuse or are themselves abused, the consequences can be severe. Young people who experience this type of trauma are at increased risk for physical and mental health problems; alcohol and drug use; and challenges at school, including failure or dropping out.

Victim service providers who primarily serve adults often lack the resources and expertise to address the unique needs of young people. However, policy solutions fostering prevention and intervention efforts can provide invaluable education and services for young people.

Policy Solutions

The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) is the primary federal funding source for domestic violence shelters and programs.  FVPSA-funded shelters offer safety and support to children and their non-abusive parent.  Additionally, a portion of FVPSA funding over $130 million is dedicated to providing targeted services to children who witness domestic violence.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) includes grant programs designed to support youth victims and stop violence before it has begun through targeted services to break the cycle of violence.

  • The Consolidated Youth Program:
    • Provides advocacy, mental health services, legal advocacy, mentoring services, and preventative education and healthy relationship programming for youth
    • Helps schools create effective policies and procedures to address dating and sexual violence and fosters safe, appropriate responses to affected students, while also holding perpetrators accountable
    • Supports training for school staff to recognize the warning signs of abuse and to identify resources available for students
    • Promotes collaborations with runaway and homeless youth programs, courts, prevention programs, law enforcement, and other youth-serving programs
    • Funds the creation of public education campaigns on violence impacting youth
  • The Campus Grant Program:
    • Helps institutions of higher education to adopt comprehensive, coordinated responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking
    • Provides training for campus law enforcement and disciplinary boards to improve the response to victims in a coordinated and victim-centered manner
    • Funds the creation of prevention education programs on campuses

The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act of 2013 (Campus SaVE) is an amendment to the federal Clery Act that was signed into law as part of the 2013 VAWA reauthorization. This act promotes increased transparency, education, accountability, and collaboration to address the problem of violence against women on campus. Campus SaVE:

  • Requires campuses to include reports of dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking – in addition to sexual assault and rape – in their Clery Act reporting of crime statistics
  • Requires higher education institutions to develop a statement of policy regarding prevention programming and the procedures that the institution will follow once an incident has been reported (including notifying victims of their rights and options)

The National Dating Abuse Helpline, or, is a toll-free helpline for teens and young adults. Through confidential, one-on-one live chats and calls, trained peer Helpline advocates provide support, information, referrals, safety planning and crisis intervention to teens. is a federal website with information for students, schools, and anyone interested in finding resources on how to respond to and prevent sexual assault on college and university campuses and in our schools. Visitors to the website can find crisis services, learn more about students’ rights and how to file a complaint, and view a map of resolved school-level enforcement activities.