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In 2013, about one in eight high school girls reported being a victim of dating violence in the past year.

Importance

Dating violence—being hit, slapped, or physically hurt by an intimate partner—can cause emotional and physical harm to both males and females, [1] though females are more likely to report physical injury.[2] Adolescents who report being victims of dating violence are at increased risk for low self-esteem, and are more likely to report poor emotional well-being, suicidal thoughts and attempts, risky sexual behaviors, pregnancy, cigarette smoking, and disordered eating. [3],[4],[5]

While males and females often report experiencing similar levels of dating violence, research has shown that dating violence by females is often defensive.[6] Risk factors that are associated with violent teens include substance abuse, conflict and abuse in the home, harsh or inattentive parenting, antisocial and delinquent peers, and living in neighborhoods where crime and drug use are prevalent. Factors protective against teens becoming perpetrators of violence include warm, supportive relationships with parents or other adults, parental monitoring, commitment to school, and perceived penalties for doing something wrong.[7]

Trends

The proportion of students in grades 9 through 12 who report being victims of dating violence during the previous 12 months was stable between 1999 and 2011, staying between nine and ten percent. (Appendix 1) Data for 2013 are not comparable to previous years, due to a change in the wording of the survey question.

According to a recent survey of a large (though not nationally representative) sample of teens, “digital” abuse or harassment (using the Internet or cell phone technology) is experienced by many dating teens. 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. [8]

Differences by Gender

66_fig1In 2013, female students were more likely to report being the victim of physical dating violence than male students: 13 versus seven percent.  (Figure 1) Differences by gender were less pronounced among black students than among students of other races and ethnicities. (Figure 2)

The gender differences are greater when looking at dating violence that is sexual (including unwanted kissing, touching, or being physically forced to have sexual intercourse). In 2013, 14 percent of high school females who dated reported sexual dating violence in the past year, compared with six percent of males.[9]

Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin[10]

66_fig2In 2013, white, black, and Hispanic students were equally likely to report physical dating violence).  (Figure 2)

Differences by Grade

In 2013, ninth- and tenth- grade males were less likely to report being the victims of physical dating violence than twelfth-grade males (six percent, each, compared with ten percent). There was no other significant differences by grade. (Appendix 1)

State and Local Estimates

2013 estimates for physical and sexual dating violence are available for high school students (grades 9-12), by gender, for selected states and cities, from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey System (YRBSS), Table 22.

International Estimates

None available.

National Goals

Through its Healthy People 2020 initiative, the federal government has set a national goal to “reduce violence by current or former intimate partners,” with sub-goals to a) reduce physical violence by current or former intimate partners, b) reduce sexual violence by current or former intimate partners, c) reduce psychological abuse by current or former intimate partners, and d) reduce stalking by current or former intimate partners.

More information is available here (Goal IVP 39).

What Works to Make Progress on This Indicator

See Child Trends’ LINKS database (“Lifecourse Interventions to Nurture Kids Successfully”), for reviews of many rigorously evaluated programs, including the following which have been shown to be effective:

Related Indicators

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.

Students from California, Oregon, Washington, and Minnesota were not included in the survey in any year. Additionally, students from Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, and Pennsylvania were not included in the 2013 survey.

Data Sources

Data for 2013: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2014). 1991-2013 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. Accessed on 8/4/2014. Available at http://nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline/.

Data for 2011: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 8, 2012). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2011. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 61(4): Table 19. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6104.pdf

Data for 2009: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 4, 2010). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2009. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 59(5): Table 12. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss5905.pdf

Data for 2007: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 6, 2008). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2007. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 57(4): Table 11. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss5704.pdf

Data for 2005: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 9, 2006). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2005. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 55(5): Table 10. Available at:  http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5505a1.htm

Data for 2003: US Department of Health and Human Services. (May 21, 2004). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2003. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 53(2): Table 10. Available at:  http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5302a1.htm#tab4

Data for 2001: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 28, 2002). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2001. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 51(4): Table 8. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5104a1.htm#tab4

Data for 1999: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 9, 2000). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 1999. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 49(5): Table 8. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss4905a1.htm#tab4

Raw Data Source

Youth Risk Behavior Survey

http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dash/yrbs/index.htm

Appendix 1: Percentage of Students in Grades 9 through 121 who Report Being Victims of Physical Dating Violence in the 12 Months Prior to the Survey: Selected Years, 1999-2013*

1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 2011 l  2013*
All Students 8.8 9.5 8.9 9.2 9.9 9.8 9.4 l  10.3
Race/Hispanic Origin3 l
Non-Hispanic White 7.4 9.1 7.0 8.2 8.4 8.0 7.6 l  9.7
Non-Hispanic Black 12.4 11.2 13.9 11.9 14.2 14.3 12.2 l  10.3
Hispanic 9.1 9.9 9.3 9.9 11.1 11.5 11.4 l  10.4
Grade l
9 7.9 8.5 8.1 7.4 8.5 9.2 7.5 l  8.8
10 7.9 9.3 8.8 8.7 8.9 9.2 9.6 l  10.0
11 8.3 9.5 8.1 9.9 10.6 10.4 10.3 l  10.4
12 11.5 10.7 10.1 11.1 12.1 10.4 10.3 l  11.7
Male 8.3 9.1 8.9 9.0 11.0 10.3 9.5 l  7.4
Race/Hispanic Origin3 l
Non-Hispanic White 7.4 8.9 6.6 8.0 9.3 8.8 7.4 l  6.4
Non-Hispanic Black 10.6 10.7 13.7 11.8 15.2 13.8 12.4 l  8.2
Hispanic 7.3 9.1 9.2 10.9 12.0 11.7 12.1 l  7.0
Grade l
9 7.7 7.7 7.8 7.0 10.5 9.1 7.4 l  5.7
10 6.1 8.0 9.3 7.8 9.1 9.3 9.5 l  6.4
11 7.9 9.6 7.9 10.4 10.8 11.5 11.2 l  8.2
12 12.2 11.7 10.1 11.4 14.1 11.4 10.0 l  9.5
Female 9.3 9.8 8.8 9.3 8.8 9.3 9.3 l  13.0
Race/Hispanic Origin3 l
Non-Hispanic White 7.4 9.4 7.5 8.5 7.4 7.2 7.7 l  12.9
Non-Hispanic Black 14.1 11.7 14.0 12.0 13.2 14.8 11.8 l  12.3
Hispanic 10.9 10.7 9.2 9.0 10.1 11.4 10.6 l  13.6
Grade l
9 8.0 9.2 8.6 7.7 6.3 9.4 7.6 l  11.9
10 9.6 10.6 8.2 9.7 8.8 9.0 9.8 l  13.4
11 8.8 9.4 8.2 9.4 10.2 9.1 9.3 l  12.4
12 10.9 9.8 10.2 10.7 10.1 9.5 10.7 l  13.9
*Question and response categories changed in 2013, and data are not comparable to previous estimates.1 Estimates do not include youth who dropped out of school and therefore may not reflect total national values. Students from California, Oregon, Washington, and Minnesota were not included in the survey in any year. Additionally, students from Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, and Pennsylvania were not included in the 2013 survey.Sources: Data for 1999: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 9, 2000). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 1999. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 49(5): Table 8. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss4905a1.htm#tab4. Data for 2001: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 28, 2002). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2001. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 51(4): Table 8. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5104a1.htm#tab4. Data for 2003: US Department of Health and Human Services. (May 21, 2004). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2003. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 53(2): Table 10. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5302a1.htm#tab4. Data for 2005: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 9, 2006). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2005. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 55(5): Table 10. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5505a1.htm. Data for 2007: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 6, 2008). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2007. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 57(4): Table 11. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss5704.pdf. Data for 2009: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 4, 2010). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2009. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 59(5): Table 12. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss5905.pdf. Data for 2011: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 8, 2012). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2011. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 61(4): Table 19. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6104.pdf. Data for 2013: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2014). 1991-2013 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. Accessed on 8/4/2014. Available at http://nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline

Endnotes


[1] Health Canada. (undated).  Dating violence. National Clearinghouse on Family Violence. Retrieved from http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/ncfv-cnivf/familyviolence/html/femdatfreq_e.html

[2] Catalano, S.  Intimate partner violence in the United States. (2007). U.S. Department of Justice: Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved from. http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/ipvus.pdf

[3] Silverman, J. G., Raj, A., & Clements, K. (2004). Dating volence and associated sexual risk and pregnancy among adolescent girls in the United States.  Pediatrics, 114(2), e220-e225.

[4] Ackard, D. M., and Neumark-Sztainer. D. (2002).  Date violence and date rape among adolescents: associations with disordered eating behaviors and psychological health. Child Abuse and Neglect, 26, 455-473.

[5] Ackard, D. M., Eisenberg, M. E., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2007). Long-term impact of adolescent dating violence on the behavioral and psychological health of male and female youth. The Journal of Pediatrics, 151, 5, 476-481.

[6] Swan, S. C., Gambone, L. J., Caldwell, J. E., Sullivan, T. P., & Snow, D. L. (2008). A review of research on women’s use of violence with male intimate partners. Violence and Victims, 23(3), 301-314. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2968709/

[7] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (undated).   Office of the Surgeon General, SAMHSA. Youth violence: A report of the Surgeon General.  Retrieved from http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/youthviolence/

[8] 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. Available at: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10964-013-9922-8

[9] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2014). 1991-2013 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. Accessed on 8/4/2014. Available at http://nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline

[10] 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. Available at: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10964-013-9922-8

Suggested Citation:

Child Trends. (2014). Dating violence. Available at: https://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=dating-violence

Last updated: August 2014