SPOT on Dating banner
Dating can be hard at any age, especially when you're a teenager.
Abuse can make it harder.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that nearly 1.5 million U.S. high school students are physically abused by a partner every year.

From SPOT 127, teenagers across the Phoenix valley break down how to identify, avoid and recover from harm in relationships. Explore their podcasts, videos and multimedia storytelling here.

Contributing Solutions: Among hundreds of hours clocked coaching and guiding students, SPOT 127 Production Assistants contributed to the successful creation and production of over 20 pieces of digital media for the SPOT On Dating project. The team of 8 mentors recognized below were particularly crucial to ensuring concrete student learning and timely project completion.

SPOT On Dating is supported by a grant from the Hickey Family Foundation and produced in collaboration with community partners who focus on dating violence and sex trafficking prevention like Kaity’s Way and Red Light Rebellion, as well as organizations like Bloom 365 and the Girl Scouts that address unhealthy social and cultural norms and seek to instill positive self-image and confidence in young people.

Defining Today's Teen Dating
Teen dating today is a lot different from generations past. New pressures, opportunities and expectations don’t make it easy for today’s teen to navigate early relationships, especially if you don’t know what a healthy relationship is supposed to look like.

The College Guy

Why do teenage girls always want to be with the “College Guy”? It's more scientific than one might think. Two teens, Isabella and Sylvia, share their answers to this question and also offer some advice to teen girls who find themselves falling for the “College Guy”.

Video by Sylvia Murillo and Isabella Escobar

What Makes a Healthy Relationship?

Two experts on dating discuss the traits of a healthy dating experience. Their warnings against arguments, manipulation, and trust shed light on the true parameters of a healthy teen relationship and how to tell when it might, in fact, be abuse.

Video by Catherine Schwartzmann, Ben Regalado, Max Trapp

Are You Ready to Date?

Hosts Jose Perez and John Mark Bogart discuss a statistic from Pew Research Center that states that 65% percent of Teenagers have not been in a romantic relationship. They continue to explore the mindset of teenagers as they decided to jump into the dating world, while others decide to wait until they feel their ready. Both Jose and John Mark explain their viewpoints and discuss how to find out when you are ready to date.

Video by Jose Perez and John Mark Bogart

Modern Teen Relationships

According to Pew Research Center, about 35% of teens have been in some type romantic relationship, however all teens have been in a relationship with friends or family. That being said, relationships are crucial to a person’s growth.

Podcast by Ebany Loera, Penelope Foy, Melina Reyes-Cabrera, Lacey Schamloeffel-slezak

Modern Teen Relationships
Ebany Loera, Penelope Foy, Melina Reyes-Cabrera, Lacey Schamloeffel-slezak

New To Love: Starting Smart With Teen Dating

Dating is something that most teens are just dying to get into, but sometimes teenagers date at times when they’re just not ready. Knowing when you’re ready to get into a relationship can help keep you from getting hurt. Teenagers today try to rush to get into a relationship so they don’t have the feeling of loneliness of being by themselves. Today, teenagers just like you talk and give advice about being smart with dating.

Podcast by Ubaldo Ruiz, Cris Favela, Marissa Colon, Atlas Hopkins

New To Love: Starting Smart With Teen Dating
Ubaldo Ruiz, Cris Favela, Marissa Colon, Atlas Hopkins

Pressure Within Friendships: Positive and Negative Influences

Friendships make up most of our daily interactions and provide a meaningful experience, no matter how they turn out. In this podcast, SPOT students talk about certain characteristics that help or hurt our friendships. The positive and negative influences that your friends provide, what makes a friendship bad or good, and our experiences dealing with these topics.

Podcast by Jose Perez, Laura Lozano, John Mark Bogart, Isabella Romero

Pressure Within Friendships: Positive and Negative Influences
Jose Perez, Laura Lozano, John Mark Bogart, Isabella Romero

The Family's Role
While friends often influence how a teen thinks about dating, family makes a big impression on forming how a teen approaches dating. Sometimes family sets a healthy example, sometimes not.

Traditions of Allowance

This topic deals with how traditions can serve as underlying causes for teen dating abuse. In some instances, we may see cases of patriarchal relationships with abuse and regard them as normal, because of support from tradition or cultural norms. Though, this is certainly something we must take into consideration, as what may have been perceived as normal before may not be today, yet old traditions force relationships to remain the same.

Podcast by Jennifer Alvarez, Lonnie Rios Luna, Hamblet Lemus, Aliyah Mitchell

Traditions of Allowance
Jennifer Alvarez, Lonnie Rios Luna, Hamblet Lemus, Aliyah Mitchell

Bringing Him Home For Dinner

After three months of dating Olivia enters a rite of passage in a teen relationship by bringing her boyfriend home for dinner. Through interviewing her parents she displays her unique view on this milestone.

Video by Olivia Parker

Traditions in the Upbringing of an Individual

In this podcast, Irene, Vyvianne, and Daniela talk about the effects of traditions in the upbringing of an individual and how that perception affects one’s views on love within teenage relationships. According to the Huffington Post, “Any culture is a system of learned and shared meanings. People learn and share things over the course of generations, and so we say they are a culture. They discuss gender normalities, positive/negative aspects and perceptions of this topic.

Podcast by Irene Franco, Daniela Hernandez, Aryanna Acosta, Vyvianne Amaya

Traditions in the Upbringing of an Individual
Irene Franco, Daniela Hernandez, Aryanna Acosta, Vyvianne Amaya

Teenage Pregnancy: The Teen Male Perspective

While teen pregnancy can often focus on the girl, this podcast discusses the male role in teenage pregnancy. Four males focus on fear, responsibility, stigma, and possible solutions for teens who might find themselves in this situation.

Podcast by Erick Hernandez, Kevin Palacios, Jesus Valenzuela, Carlos Garcia

Teenage Pregnancy: The Teen Male Perspective
Erick Hernandez, Kevin Palacios, Jesus Valenzuela, Carlos Garcia

Teen Dependency on Dating
Knowing that someone likes you and wants to spend time with you is an amazing feeling, but sometimes people grow dependent on dating, maybe even addicted. And it can be just as hard, if not dangerous, to end it.

Pressures on Non-Dating High School Teens

Two students, in high school and early college, discuss their personal views on relationships. Their own perspectives explore the pressures of high school dating, from dances to technology. While also discussing the ‘Fear of Missing Out’ (FOMO), the two students ponder whether dating in high school would be worth their time, and why they’ve stayed out of the dating pool.

Podcast by Samantha Lee

Pressures on Non-Dating High School Teens
Samantha Lee

How to Break Up

Dating as a teen is hard, especially when you don’t have a relatable source to get advice from. Today, we discuss arguably the worst part of any relationship, the breakup. It’s entirely normal to dread having to breakup with someone, and most people have no idea on how to confront the situation. Even after the breakup happens, it can still have consequences in your personal and professional life. This is why it is important to always handle breakups in a healthy and professional way.

Video by Dominik Deciga and Carlos Ocampo

Are You Cuffed?

Today’s conversation will cover why and how people become reliant in unhealthy relationships. The cast will delve into many themes, such as fear, self-worth, characteristics of victims and abusers and "breaking the chain" moments through true stories shared by the guests. Listen as they create connections between “cuffing” in dating and Stockholm Syndrome, a term mainly used in the criminal investigation field. Understanding the connection between this psychological disease and a common issue in dating is essential to establishing healthy relationships. If you find yourself in a cuffed relationship, have a friend in a cuffed relationship, or are simply interested in learning more about the complexity of human connections, join the podcast!

Podcast by Daniel Alvarez, Gus Hernandez, Monet Almaraz, Odin Poliovos

Are You Cuffed?
Daniel Alvarez, Gus Hernandez, Monet Almaraz, Odin Poliovos

Influences and Signs of Controlling Relationships

Since they may not be easy to see, these SPOT students talk about the signs, impacts and aftermath of controlling relationships. Specifically, they discuss how insecurity develops into these kinds of relationships and what teens can do to help themselves or others before their relationship becomes controlling.

Podcast by Ariana Rodriguez, Walter Zuniga, Anthony Lujan, Cesar Roldan, Marcus Bravo

Influences and Signs of Controlling Relationships
Ariana Rodriguez, Walter Zuniga, Anthony Lujan, Cesar Roldan, Marcus Bravo

Codependency in Teen Dating

Codependency is a behavior in which you find yourself dependent on the approval of someone else for your own self worth and identity. This is something that has been affecting many teens and could lead to an abusive teen relationship.

Podcast by Alberto Jimenez, Danny Orozco, Carlos Ocampo, Carlos Vasquez

Codependency in Teen Dating
Alberto Jimenez, Danny Orozco, Carlos Ocampo, Carlos Vasquez

Pressures: Why We Want to Date

One of the biggest pressures teenage girls encounter is to want and to be in a relationship. In this podcast, we talk about why teenagers get into relationships, but specifically understanding the reality of why we get into relationships, and how we deal with emotions and pressures of maintaining relationships.

Podcast by Salynna Machado, Jeiny Ayala, Kendra Tapia, Yurisa Cid

Pressures: Why We Want to Date
Salynna Machado, Jeiny Ayala, Kendra Tapia, Yurisa Cid

Assault and Abuse
All relationships have ups and downs, but no one needs to resort to violence when things turn sour. Random or constant assaults do happen, so how do we best prevent them and defend ourselves against them?

Considering Sexual Assault When Applying to College

During this time of year, many teens are navigating their senior year of high school. The most exciting part of graduating may be the firsts: first acceptance letter and first day of college. However, the prospect of firsts can also hold a darker meaning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 50% of women between the ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing their first incident of intimate partner violence.

Feature by Michelle Ailport

Considering Sexual Assault When Applying to College
Michelle Ailport

Under Reporting Sexual Assault On College Campuses

Over the past few decades, instances of sexual assault have risen and many victims remained silent, until recently with the tweets of #METOO plus the number of victims speaking up through social media. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 50% of women between the ages 18 and 24 have reported experiencing their first intimate partner violence.

Video by Aliyah Mitchell, Michelle Ailport

Stalking in a Relationship

This video is about issues that occur in teen relationships; specifically stalking. Stalking is a serious matter because it can lead to physical and mental harm if a teenager is constantly experiencing it. Stalking consists of showing up unwanted or unexpected and frequent phone calls or texts messages. This is why teenagers should caution and limit what they put on social media, since it is really easy people to get ahold of your information. If you feel like you are being stalked or know that you are, do not let it go unresolved. The stalking is likely to escalate into eventual violence if left alone. Always seek help to resolve the matter as soon as possible; waiting will only make it worse.

Video by Monet Almaraz and Carlos Ocampo

Teen Suicide in Response to Break Up

Two teens recount a story of two high school girls who were in a relationship that ended in a tragic murder suicide. Teen suicide rates have gone up by more than 19% in Arizona and its not getting any better. This video will share with you a few tips in what to do if you ever find yourself in a situation like this or have anyone close to you going through this and how you can help as a friend/loved one.

Video by Liliana Barajas and Jenifer Santiago

Outside Pressures
Not everything that has an impact on a relationship comes from inside of it. From keeping up with busier schedules to the music we listen to, a lot of pressure on dating comes from outside forces.

Does it Work or Does it End?

High school seniors Yajaira and Xavier tell how they plan to work through the pressures that going off to separate colleges will inflict on their relationship. Arizona State University sophomore Samantha Lee also shares just how the same pressures affected her own relationship, and what she took away from it.

Video by Gisselle Loera

Pop Culture Contributing to Domestic Violence

Music has a large impact on how one feels. It make somebody feel powerful, emotional, nostalgic, or even disturbed. Older generations often criticize modern Top 40 music due to some songs that contain vulgar lyrics, however this has been an issue for many decades. Two college students and a high schooler consider the effects of songs which contain lyrics that promote or publicize domestic violence or rape culture. How large of a role do the lyrics people listen to play on how they will behave? Is it something to worry about, or is it just a song?

Podcast by Caroline Smyrk, Olivia Parker, Amanda Taylor

Pop Culture Contributing to Domestic Violence
Caroline Smyrk, Olivia Parker, Amanda Taylor

Managing Relationships With a Busy Schedule

It can be a challenge trying to figure out how much time to dedicate to your relationship, especially with the chaotic school/work schedule. Hamblet Lemus and Lonnie Rios Luna do some research and give their own perspective on how one can manage their calendar when it comes to romance.

Video by Hamblet Lemus, Lonnie Rios Luna

When to Step In on an Abusive Relationship?

In the US, over 500 women and girls in age 16 to 24 are killed per year due to abusive relationship. In this podcast Carmen Cruz, Jenifer Santiago, and Qing Zhang talk about when to step in an abusive relationship and what kind of advice they would give to a friend in that situation. They discuss about the people that can easily find themselves in these types of relationships and the factors that keep them from escaping. They also touch base on why people wouldn’t step in abusive relationship.

Podcast by Jenifer Santiago, Carmen Cruz, Liliana Barajas, Qing Zhang

When to Step In on an Abusive Relationship?
Jenifer Santiago, Carmen Cruz, Liliana Barajas, Qing Zhang

Disabilities and Teen Dating

A teenage relationship involving a disability is a very big issue that nobody talks about, when it should be something that’s discussed daily. Teenagers just want to be accepted by others, but it’s very hard for a teenager -especially one with a disability- to feel accepted like everybody else. By discussing this topic, we try and open the eyes of the teenagers watching that everyone deserves the same rights and respect no matter what. Just because one may have a disability doesn’t mean they aren’t allowed to be in or have a relationship with their peers around them. You shouldn’t change yourself for anybody else, because you are amazing just the way you are and nothing and nobody should ever change that.

Video by Marissa Colon and Ubaldo Ruiz

Adopting Bad Behavior: Using Drugs in Relationships

Why do teens in relationships think they can use drugs while they are together? They can get their partner addicted to it just like them. People don’t see the harm that drugs can do to you and your significant partner. Teens think it’s just fun and games until they get addicted to it and hurt their family and friends. Drugs is not good for you at all it harms your future and body. It makes you a different person and also more violent.

Video by Angel Castellanos and Celeste Trevino

Communication Breakdown
Strong communication is critical to a healthy relationship, so when it goes bad, often does the relationship. Through verbal exchange or on social media, the health of our relationships often hinge on how well we communicate to our partners.

How to Tell You Are in a Verbally Abusive Relationship

More often than not people enter their first relationships in their teenage years. When entering these relationships people may not know what to expect from having a significant other and this can sometimes lead to misbehavior by one party or obliviousness from one of the parties. You should know the signs of whether you or someone you may know is in an abusive relationship, and how to go about handling the situation.

Video by Koko Rivera, Samuel Bradley

Gender Roles and Stereotypes in Abusive Relationships

Mike Holiday, a victim of abuse, describes his experiences with not only the event itself, but the repercussions he felt from the abuse. Holiday also discusses society’s view on male victims, and how they can be cast aside in certain situations.

Video by Sara Williams, Frances Caldwell, Mya Caldwell Escribens

Normalization of Teen Abuse

Abuse can be seen all over social media in subtle ways that one may not even notice. This is a problem. In this podcast, Isabella Escobar and Angel Rosales, discuss the normalization of this subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle abuse on social media. In addition to this, the two talk about the lasting effects and how it can cause the spread of more abuse online and in real life.

Podcast by Isabella Escobar, Angel Rosales, Danny Orozco, Carlos Ocampo

Normalization of Teen Abuse
Isabella Escobar, Angel Rosales, Danny Orozco, Carlos Ocampo

Catfishing: Did You Get Caught Online?

One SPOT127 student reveals the dangers of catfishing for those attempting to date online. Through a visual representation of private messages, the sinister intentions of one catfisher are revealed in his messages to a young high school student.

Video by Sabri Abounozha

Exposed to the Whole World: Sexting and Revenge Porn

Social media is used by teenagers on a daily basis; they use these platforms to share photos and videos of pretty much everything that happens in their life. But, just how much should teenagers share in their relationships? Sexting, when two people send each other nude pictures among other sexual things, has become more and more common among teen relationships. In this reaction video we mention a teen girl who was exposed by her enraged ex-boyfriend when he posted her nudes on Snapchat after she decided to break up with him. What would you do if all of your intimate pictures were shown to everyone at school?

Video by Liliana Barajas and Qing Zhang

The most productive way to deal with teen dating violence is to have plenty of resources within reach. Below are a number of resources were researched by SPOT 127 Production Assistants as a means to empower teens with solutions to a variety of teen dating issues.

Olivia Parker
Twitter: @Oliviaa_simonee
Portfolio: Olivia Parker

This project taught me that you don’t need to wait until it’s an emergency and need to call 9-1-1 or a hotline; there is somebody trained and willing to listen and help every level of a relationship. For instance, my topic focused on my current relationship and how I was worried my parents and boyfriend weren’t going to get along. So after doing some research, I felt more confident and relieved about the situation. Loveisrespect keeps being one of the most helpful sites with thousands of articles related to all aspects of teen dating. Their text chat-line helped me feel there was somebody listening and provided me with more resources (national and local) in case a problem was to arise.

Gisselle Loera
Twitter: @gisselle_loera
LinkedIn: Gisselle Loera

This project to me emphasized the hardships teens face when transitioning through all the phases that come with growing up and trying to find who they are. My project focused specifically on how the transition and stress of moving on to college could affect a romantic relationship. It was incredibly interesting to see the “before” and “after” of this as one of my subjects was a couple about to graduate high school and anticipating the future, while my second subject already went through that and discussed how it turned out for her. When I made the transition to college, I wasn’t in a relationship or having to think about how my decision would affect somebody else. I just had to worry about me! While working on the project I saw that communication is key whether your relationship succeeds or not, and that its okay if it doesn’t. However, communication doesn’t always come so easy, especially between partners. Online sources like acts as a resource for those who want to talk about their relationships and improve communication within them. While relationships matter, whatever the type, the most important thing is for you to be happy both emotionally and mentally in order to be able to manage the struggle that is college. If a relationship isn’t contributing to that, then it’s okay if it ends. provides helpful suggestions on how to approach the subject with your partner.

Samantha Lee
Twitter: @spottedsnake
Instagram: @samthesssnake
LinkedIn: Samantha Lee

For someone surrounded by couples through high school, it was really fascinating to hear from those who not only didn’t date, but who certainly don’t regret their decision. In a discussion on how prominent couples are online, the students showed the importance of waiting until they were ready to begin dating, and finding the ‘right’ person.

One resource for teens on the subject, though mostly centered to young women, is Her Campus, which says having other priorities than dating is good, even healthy, and they shouldn't feel like an outcast. Teen independence has blossomed, especially with articles published from groups like Her Campus, that support individuality and self-respect, two very important aspects when it comes to dating.

Overall, the project shed light on different opinions on dating, as well as the type of relationships beyond what’s romantic. Whether a discussion on healthy relationships, or just dating in general, I noticed how so many of us face these issues and think we’re alone. These projects showed us we’re not.

Caroline Smyrk
Twitter: @carolinesmyrk
Instagram: @carolinesmyrk
LinkedIn: Caroline Smyrk

The discussion I led for SPOT on Dating really opened my eyes on how pop culture, specifically music, can affect young listeners. As a pop culture aficionado, I have heard plenty of references in music not at all appropriate for teens and was curious as to what impact it could have. I learned that as technology becomes more accessible for young children, it's likely that one could hear such lyrics and perhaps want to pursue the vulgar actions being sung. Especially today, people need to be aware of their actions, and if they start to see a negative change in someone close, they need to check in on them.

As a whole, the #SPOTonDating Project opened my perspective on many situations I face each day, whether it be how I approach a situation, what I stand up for, or what I listen to. When I was first informed that SPOT would be doing a project on teen dating violence, I honestly did not have a clue on how many young individuals it affected. I was well aware that domestic violence happened in adult relationships, but my mind never jumped to how much it affects teens. The least we can do to solve this issue is to become informed.

Michelle Ailport
Twitter: @michelleailport
Instagram: @ailportmichelle
LinkedIn: Michelle Ailport
Portfolio: Michelle Ailport

This project was truly eye opening. When I first started researching for this project, I didn’t realize how little I actually knew about sexual assault on college campuses and media’s effect on our relationships. The more I delved in, the more concerned I became. Even with limitless information available at our fingertips, we as teenagers are incredibly uniformed about the issues that should matter to us most. Being a teenager is overwhelming, but there are many resources available to us. While Google is a great place to start with questions, I’ve found that Bloom365’s program and website have been most helpful to me throughout this process. They work directly with teens like us here at SPOT 127 and beyond, publishing hotlines, frequently asked questions, and other valuable resources.

Aliyah Mitchell
Twitter: @aliyah_127
Instagram: @Aliyah_Mitchell_127
LinkedIn: Aliyah Mitchell

Working on this project has shown me the importance of speaking up and being heard. As a teenager you focus on how to prove yourself as a mature responsible person capable of taking care of themselves, even if that means dealing with something such as abuse. However, that is not the answer. Everyone at some point needs help, whether if it’s telling a person about abuse or having someone help you get out of the situation. With countless ways of communication and sources, it is still difficult to ask someone or even tell someone that you need help when in an abusive relationship. If you don’t have someone close to talk to, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline. They give tips and advice on not only how to ask for help but how others can help you get out of the relationship.

Hamblet Lemus
Twitter: @h_lemus_127
Instagram: @h_lemus_127
LinkedIn: Hamblet Lemus

Learning of the difficulty many others have in allocating time toward their relationship had a profound effect on me, as it was the first time I realized that thousands of people struggle with something I thought was a unique challenge to me and born from my own incompetence as a partner. In order to have a healthy and fulfilling relationship, one must make sure they are capable of investing themselves into the life and wellbeing of another person and having a schedule open enough to include them. That being said, I also learned that it's completely possible for one to adjust and change elements of their schedule around to help accommodate bonding time. This can be accomplished by arranging and having conversations with superiors such as professors or bosses, and even your co-workers can provide help by organizing an agreement to switch shifts every once in a while. For this kind of issue, there's no better resource than the people around you. Additionally, counselors and social psychologists exist who can help, such as Theresa E. Didonato, a professor who also writes articles based around relationships that can help teens understand how to manage their own relationships. Ultimately, one should not feel worthless for having difficulties in this area.

Lonnie Luna
Twitter: @127Lonnie
Instagram: @lonnie_rios_luna_127
LinkedIn: Lonnie Rios Luna

The project helped me with how to deal with situations like how to manage my time in a relationship, how serious abusive relationships are and how to handle them. In order to solve these things, it’s important to talk to someone, tell them what is going on and what you or someone else should do. One key thing I learned is how to identify these situations. It's something everyone needs to know because in relationships, for some people it's hard for them to know when they are being abused or manipulated. If you need more information on how to manage your time with your relationships, I like the five ways to balance time in relationships presented in this Psychology Today Article. It has good insight on the topic and should give you some ideas.