January 27, 2017


TOP Advocates
Legal Information

Common Questions:

Can a minor file his or her own petition in Family Court?
Yes. Minor victims of abuse are allowed to bring their own petitions in Family Court, either on their own or with a lawyer or a law guardian (attorney for the child) appointed by the Court. Day One, an organization that partners with youth to end dating abuse, publishes a free Know Your Rights Guide.

Are the police required to wait for parents before talking to a victim who is a minor?
Police can talk to child victims without notifying their parents, but in many cases may opt to do so with an advocate, a family friend, or a sympathetic relative. Police should not talk to a minor suspected of a crime without the suspect’s parent(s) present.

Can a minor receive medical treatment without consent from a parent?
According to Planned Parenthood, New York State allows teens to consent to some services without parents’ permission.

Do domestic violence shelters take minors?
According to state regulations, those who are 16 or older should be accepted into shelter.

For more information about victim rights, check out OPDV’s page on the Domestic Incident Report Victim Rights Notice.

Safety Planning
Safety Planning

As an advocate, you likely have experience with safety planning and may use the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence publication Finding Safety and Support as a key resource. While many tactics of abuse are similar in adult and teen relationships, there are some special considerations to be made for teenagers:

  • Know your audience. Use age appropriate language but don’t be condescending. Teens may shut down if they thing adults don’t understand or are minimizing their situation.
  • Your teen client might be breaking their parents’ rules by dating, which means they may not tell their parents about the abuse for fear of getting in trouble.
  • They may be dating for the first time and may not realize the difference between normal and abusive behaviors. Talk to them about healthy dating behaviors and warning signs that they can safety plan for.
  • Your teen client’s brain isn’t fully developed yet and they feel things more intensely than adults do. If breaking up with their partner seems like the end of the world, remember that to them, it might really feel that way.
  • Be honest about the process: what happens if you call the police; the dangers of ending an abusive relationship; what getting an order of protection means. Teens often feel like adults aren’t telling them the whole truth or that decisions are being made for them; help empower teen victims by giving all the information they need and the opportunity to make their own decisions.
  • Your teen client may come from an unstable home where abuse is normalized, or they may have a group of friends that accept abuse as “normal” dating behavior. These factors all contribute to the kinds of relationships they have and should not be minimized.
  • They may be on their own, without support from their parents.  As a result, their partner sometimes is the only person who helps them meet their basic needs. If your client is under 18, let them know there are other resources and/or refer them to someone who can provide free legal assistance.

Check out the advice we give to teens about safety planning.

Webinars and Toolkits
Webinars and Toolkits


Responding to Youth Violence through Community Advocacy

Sexually Explicit Media and Communication

Teen Dating Violence and Protection Orders

Teen Protection Orders—Research and Advocacy

Teen Dating Violence: Economic Impact—Education and Earnings

Teens and Sexual Assault: Addressing Potentially Unique Issues

The Youthful Offender Domestic Violence Court: Can a Court Help Break the Cycle?

Teen Dating Violence and Reproductive Coercion

Promoting Healthy Teen Relationships: Preventing Teen Dating Violence

Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships—Social Marketing

That’s Not Cool: Mobilizing Youth Communities

Tool Kits

The Runaway and Homeless Youth Relationship Violence Toolkit
Developed by and for advocates who work with runaway and homeless youth and domestic and sexual assault victims, this toolkit features information, resources, tips to help programs better address relationship violence with these populations.

Leveraging Social Media to Talk to Teens about Relationship Violence

Teen Action Tool Kit
A resource for educators, law enforcement personnel, outreach workers, victim service providers, youth workers, teens, and others who might be interested in starting a youth-led effort to improve local policies, outreach, and services for adolescent crime victims. 

Working with Schools
Working with Schools

Initiatives and Curricula

Curricula and activity books recommended by the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Start Strong
Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships is a national program promoting healthy relationships among 11- to 14-year-olds and identify promising ways to prevent teen dating violence.

Dating Matters
Dating Matters®: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships is an initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The program focuses on 11– to 14–year–olds in high-risk, urban communities and includes preventive strategies for individuals, schools, and neighborhoods.

Shifting Boundaries
A lesson plan for teaching middle schoolers about healthy boundaries.