Lack of training by school officials could lead to improper handling of teen relationship violence, such as being raped, beaten and possibly murdered.

According to researchers, teen dating violence affects 9 to 34 percent of teens. Despite the number of teens affected by possible abuse, schools are ill-equipped to deal with teen dating violence. A survey conducted by Jagdish Khubchandani, an assistant professor of community health at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, discovered that 70 percent of U.S. high school counselors have not received formal training concerning teen dating violence. The survey included a 17-part questions regarding what protocol should be used in regards to teen dating violence.  

Khubchandani composed and sent four-page- surveys to 523 members of the American School Counselor Association. Of those members 58 percent of the counselors participated in the survey. Despite the fact counselors are trained in healthy relationships and are advised to report dating violence, 81 percent of counselors revealed their schools do not have a formal protocol to assess this type of domestic violence. 90 percent stated their school has not provided training in the past two years. 16 percent of counselors said their schools discussed creating formal protocols, but have yet to follow suit.

It was found that counselors are knowledgeable regarding teen domestic violence and in the past two years, 61 percent of them had helped a teen who have experienced dating violence. Though counselors have helped males who were dealing with dating violence the majority of counselors stated they assist more females.

According to Khubchandani, lead study author, the results of the survey suggest that schools do not view teen dating violence as “high-priority issue to be addressed.”

Paige Smith, director of the Center for Women's Health and Wellness at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, believes that school officials want to help but they are not sure how to help.

Khubchandani and his team suggest counselors encouraging health organizations like the National Association of School Nurses to offer guidance counselors information and training, school administrators should regularly evaluate the extent of dating violence in their schools and implement strategies for dealing with it and familiarize themselves and their staffs with relevant state laws on dating violence and minor consent.

This study was published in Pediatrics.