You have so many students every year, sometimes it's hard to know what every single one is going through at home, with their friends, or in their dating relationships. Teachers have such an important role as mentors and trusted adults to not only notice signs of dating violence, but also respond in a supportive way. Here are some warning signs to look out for:


If you suspect a student is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, here are some ways to talk to them.


  • Expect them to break up with their dating partner

  • Make it about you / your relationship

  • Assume their gender identity or sexual orientation

  • Judge them for their age or be condescending

  • Insult their dating partner

  • Blame them for the abuse

  • Ignore the warning signs

  • Wait until it becomes physically abusive

  • Discount the emotional, mental, verbal, or cyber abuse

  • Make decisions for them

  • Talk about their situation with other students or teachers

- DO

  • Ensure they are safe - take immediate action if they are not

  • Make them feel comfortable

  • Protect their confidentiality

  • Ensure that the student knows you are a mandated reporter

  • Establish your own boundaries

  • Assure them you are not judging or trying to fix them

  • Listen without judgement or interruptions

  • Validate their experience

  • Be understanding and compassionate

  • Thank them for trusting you enough to share

  • Safety plan

  • Ask how else you can help

  • Come up with the next steps together

  • Let them decide what they want to do

  • Provide resources

  • Follow up

Possible warning signs

  • Change in appearance

  • Drastic shift in attitude or engagement

  • Performance drop

  • Frequent tardiness or drop in attendance

  • Isolated from friends, classmates, or activities

  • More reserved or timid; reluctance to speak up

  • Physical signs of abuse (bruises, long clothing, heavy makeup, scratches, broken possessions)

  • Dating partner shows up constantly at class

  • Rumors about abuse

  • Nudes / explicit photos / videos / information being shared

  • Significant change in future goals (such as deciding not to go to college outside of Hawai'i)

  • Disinterest in hobbies, sports, clubs, or other activities

  • Drug use or alcohol consumption

  • Increased aggression or irritation

  • Tired all the time

  • Evidence of constant crying or emotional distress

  • Signs of self-harm

  • Comments reflecting suicidal thoughts or planning

Trust your gut. If something feels off, don't ignore it.