Dating Violence

Publication Date:

Dec 18, 2018

Key facts about dating violence

  • Among students who report dating, the percentage who also reported being victims of dating violence in the last year dropped from a high of 10 percent in 2013 to 8 percent in 2017, the lowest-ever recorded value.
  • In 2017, 9 percent of high school girls and 7 percent of high school boys reported being a victim of dating violence in the past year.
  • A higher proportion of non-Hispanic black students reported being a victim of dating violence in the past year than Hispanic or non-Hispanic white students (10 percent versus 8 and 7 percent, respectively, in 2017).

Trends in dating violence

Among students in grades 9 through 12 who are dating, a consistent proportion report being victims of dating violence during the previous 12 months from 1999 to 2011 (9 to 10 percent). Data for 2013 and beyond are not comparable to previous years’ data, due to a change in the wording of the survey question. The percentage of students reporting they were victims of dating violence in the last year dropped from 10 percent in 2013 to 8 percent in 2017, the lowest recorded value (Appendix 1).

According to a recent survey of a large (though not nationally representative) sample of teens, many dating teens also experience “digital” abuse or harassment (via the internet or cell phone technology). Moreover, adolescents who are victimized in these ways are much more likely to be physically or psychologically abused, or sexually coerced, by their dating partners.1

Differences by gender 

In 2017, a higher proportion of female students reported being the victim of physical dating violence than male students, at 9 and 7 percent, respectively. This gap has narrowed in recent years, from 6 percentage points in 2013 to 2 percentage points in 2017 (Appendix 1). There are even greater gender differences when looking at dating violence that is sexual (including unwanted kissing, touching, or being physically forced to have sexual intercourse). In 2017, 11 percent of high school females who dated reported sexual dating violence in the past year, compared with 3 percent of males. 2

Differences by race and Hispanic origin3

In 2017, non-Hispanic black students reported the highest proportion of physical dating violence victimization in the past 12 months. Overall, 10 percent of non-Hispanic black students reported being the victim of dating violence, compared with 8 percent of Hispanic students and 7 percent of non-Hispanic white students. Differences were more pronounced among females: 13 percent of female non-Hispanic black students who dated in the past year reported being the victim of dating violence, compared with 9 and 8 percent of Hispanic and non-Hispanic white females, respectively (Appendix 1).

Differences by grade

In 2017, ninth-grade males had a lower reported rate of physical dating violence victimization than twelfth-grade males (6 and 9 percent, respectively). There were no other noticeable differences by grade (Appendix 1).

Other estimates

State and local estimates

2017 estimates for physical and sexual dating violence among high school students (grades 9 to 12) for selected states and cities are available, by gender, from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), Table 20 at https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/pdf/2017/ss6708.pdf.

Data and appendices

Data source

• Data for 2013–2017: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). YRBS Youth Online Data Analysis Tool [Data tool]. Retrieved from https://nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline/App/Default.aspx.
• Data for 1999–2011: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2000–2012). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 1999–2011. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 49–61. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/mmwr_ss/ss_pvol.html.

Raw data source

Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).
https://nccd.cdc.gov/Youthonline/App/Default.aspx

Appendices

Appendix 1. Percentage of Students in Grades 9 through 12 Who Report Being Victims of Physical Dating Violence in the Past 12 Months: Select Years, 1999–2017

Background

Definition

Prior to 2013, students were asked, “During the past 12 months, did your boyfriend or girlfriend ever hit, slap, or physically hurt you on purpose?”

In 2013, the question was changed to, “During the past 12 months, how many times did someone you were dating or going out with physically hurt you on purpose? (Count such things as being hit, slammed into something, or injured with an object or weapon.)” Students who answered that they did not date in the past 12 months were excluded from the population for the proportion.

Some states are not included in the national estimates because they did not participate in the YRBS. Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington have never participated in the YRBS. Other states have participated in the YRBS, but not every year. Information on which states did not participate in the YRBS each year is available at https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/pdf/2017/2017_hs_participation_history.pdf.

Citation

Child Trends. (2018). Dating Violence. Retrieved from https://www.childtrends.org/indicators/dating-violence.

Endnotes

1. Zweig, J. M., Dank, M., Yahner, J., & Lachman, P. (2013). The rate of cyber dating abuse among teens and how it relates to other forms of teen dating violence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42(7), 1063–1077.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2016). 1991–2015 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. Accessed on 3/24/2017. Retrieved from http://nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline.
3. Hispanic students may be of any race.