WEDNESDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) -- More than one-third of
U.S. teens and young adults say they've suffered abuse during
dating and about one-third say they've been perpetrators of abuse,
new research finds. About one-quarter say they've been both an
abuser and a victim.
It's not clear how the research defines dating violence beyond
the categories of psychological, physical and sexual. However, the
study, based on national surveys from 2011 and 2012, reveals that
problems of abuse that face adolescents aren't receding, said Emily
Rothman, an associate professor at Boston University School of
Public Health who is familiar with the findings.
"It is sorely disappointing that we have not seen improvements in the prevalence of dating violence in the past 12 years, but there is a clear reason for it," she said. "We spend virtually no money on dating violence prevention or education in schools and communities. Problems don't change unless you try to fix them."
Abuse during dating relationships appears to be fairly common
among teens in the United States. Federal research has shown that
about 9 percent of high school students report being hit or
physically hurt by their girlfriend or boyfriend, and 8 percent
have been forced to have sexual intercourse, said Dr. Yolanda
Evans, an assistant professor at Seattle Children's Hospital who
Another expert on teens noted that the level of abuse among
teens is difficult to study. That's because "the whole idea of what
constitutes dating and a dating relationship during adolescence is
confusing, conflicted and somewhat ambiguous for researchers,
parents and teens," said Donna Howard, an associate professor at
the University of Maryland School of Public Health.
The new study, by Michele Ybarra at the Center for Innovative
Public Health Research in San Clemente, Calif., and colleagues, is
based on a survey of 1,058 young people aged 14 to 20.
The investigators found that 35 percent of girls and women
reported perpetrating abuse, 41 percent said they were victims, and
29 percent said they were both victims and perpetrators. For boys
and men, the numbers were 29 percent, 37 percent and 24 percent,
Females were more likely to say they were victims of sexual
violence and perpetrators of physical violence. Males reported
committing more sexual violence.
The study and two others that examined dating violence in teens
are scheduled for presentation Wednesday at the annual meeting of
the American Psychological Association, in Honolulu.
Bullying and dating violence seem to go together, another
conference study suggests.
It reported findings from a national survey of 625 American
youths who answered questions six times during middle school and
high school from 2008 to 2012. Of those who had dated, 10 percent
said they'd slapped or hit a romantic partner and 11 percent said
they'd bit a partner. About one in four said they'd used a hostile
tone with a partner.
What to do? "Adolescent dating violence is a topic we need to
discuss because more teens may be experiencing it than we thought,"
said Evans, of Seattle Children's Hospital. "Intimate partner
violence is associated with poor school performance, poor
self-esteem, depression and thoughts of suicide. We should
communicate with our teens that it is never OK to act violently
against a partner or to force them to do something they do not feel
comfortable doing. We also need to teach our teens that it is
unacceptable for someone to act violently towards us in a
A third conference study, based on a survey of 1,525 Latinos
aged 12 to 18, suggests that teens are at lower risk of dating
abuse if they have more family support.
The studies should be considered preliminary because they were
presented at a conference. Such research typically has not gone
through the peer-review process required of studies that appear in
academic and medical journals.
For more about
teen violence, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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