Dallas, Oct. 9, 2012 – Nearly 80 percent of parents have discussed dating abuse with their daughters, but only 3 percent identify “no violence” as a characteristic of a healthy dating relationship, according to the Don’t Look Away survey conducted by Mary Kay Inc. and APCO Insight.
In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, Mary Kay Inc. today released the results from its first Don’t Look Away survey, intended to provide insight into parental awareness of their daughters’ dating relationships and behaviors. The survey reveals a stark contrast between the perceptions that many parents have about their daughters’ relationships from the reality experienced by adolescent girls.
The poll of parents of 11-18 year old girls revealed two in three parents believe they are aware of their daughters’ romantic involvements and dating relationships. The Don’t Look Away survey found that 80 percent of parents say they have discussed dating abuse with their daughters. The survey found that more often than not, parents of tweens (11-14 year olds) say their daughters have not been involved in a romantic relationship (81 percent), yet nearly half of all tweens (47 percent) say they have been in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.1
Even more alarming than parents’ apparent lack of awareness about their daughters’ relationships is the fact that one in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.2
Mary Kay’s Don’t Look Away advocacy campaign seeks to educate the public on how to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship, how to take action, and to raise awareness of a variety of survivor support services. A major component of Don’t Look Away is Mary Kay’s lead sponsorship of loveisrespect’s dating abuse text message helpline. The text for help program is the first in the nation. Tweens and teens can text ‘loveis’ to 77054 to get help if they are experiencing dating abuse and to get information about healthy relationships. The service also provides parents with guidance on how to speak with their children about dating abuse.
A dangerous gap
  • Sixty-two percent of tweens who have been in a relationship say they have been called names, put down or insulted,1 yet only 34 percent of parents of tweens in the Don’t Look Away survey say they are aware of this behavior.
  • Only 3 percent of parents specifically identified “no violence or abuse” as a characteristic of a healthy relationship.
What parents are seeing
  • The Don’t Look Away survey found that 1 in 4 (27 percent) parents report that their daughter has been in an unhealthy relationship; yet, actual statistics reveal 1 in 3 adolescent girls in the U.S. is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.2
  • Parents report that verbal dating abuse is a serious problem among their daughters’ age group. Ninety-two percent believe using words to hurt a romantic partner is a serious problem.
  • Inappropriate phone communication also is reported with 3 in 10 parents (31 percent) saying they know of a time when a romantic partner called/texted excessively (i.e. called 10+ times a day, texted 20+ times a day) to check up on their boyfriend/girlfriend.
Striving for 100 percent
  • 9 in 10 parents (93 percent) say they are very or somewhat comfortable discussing dating abuse with their daughters, though 20 percent admit that they have not had this conversation.
    o Mothers report more comfort with this conversation topic than fathers (98 percent vs. 88 percent).
  • A majority of parents say they have discussed a number of specific topics regarding dating abuse.
    o 83 percent have discussed their daughters’ right to say no and how to do so.
    o 73 percent have discussed that dating abuse can be physical, emotional and/or sexual.
    o 66 percent have discussed where to get help should she or a friend ever encounter dating abuse.
    o 60 percent have discussed the warning signs of dating abuse.
  • Some parents may be waiting to have these discussions until they know their daughter is involved romantically. Significantly more parents who report knowing their daughter has had a relationship have discussed dating abuse than those who believe their daughter has not been romantically involved (91 percent to 72 percent).


“Teen violence is a very real issue with grave repercussions,” said Jessica Bair, great granddaughter of Mary Kay Ash and alumni of loveisrespect’s peer advocacy program. “Open communication about the risk of dating abuse, awareness of resources for help, and the support of friends and family are critical for victims. Often times, people will look the other way and not get involved but they shouldn’t. We hope the findings of this poll encourage communities to not only talk about this serious issue, but also to tell them ‘Don’t Look Away’ if they witness abuse or an unhealthy relationship.”

About Mary Kay
Mary Kay is one of the world’s largest direct selling companies with more than $3 billion in annual wholesale sales worldwide. Mary Kay was founded in 1963 by Mary Kay Ash with the goal of helping women achieve personal growth and financial success. Mary Kay remains committed to enriching women’s lives, and today more than 2.4 million people of all backgrounds are enjoying the advantages of being Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultants. Mary Kay’s high-quality skin care and color cosmetics products are sold in more than 35 countries around the world. To learn more about Mary Kay, visit marykay.com.


About loveisrespect
Loveisrespect helps teens and young adults, ages 13-24 navigate the spectrum of healthy relationship behaviors. From the program, young people learn there are options, answers and support available to them every hour of every day. Forming the national partnership to end dating abuse, Break the Cycle and the National Dating Abuse Helpline designed the new loveisrespect specifically for young people, emphasizing confidentiality and trust to ensure teens and 20-somethings nationwide feel safe and supported – online and off. Find out more at www.loveisrespect.org.
Survey Methodology
The Mary Kay Don’t Look Away survey was conducted among 532 parents of teen (15-18 year olds) and tween (11-14 year olds) daughters. The online survey was sponsored by Mary Kay Inc. and conducted by APCO Insight, an international opinion research firm, from September 13-17, 2012. The survey has a sampling error of ± 4.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence interval. Sample frame was based on demographic information from the U.S. Census Bureau and data have not been weighted.