A disturbing number of teenagers experience physical violence in their dating relationships, a situation that can lead not only to physical injury, but depression, eating disorders, academic problems and other harms.
As discussed on ScienceDaily.com, a recent study published in the Journal of School Violence reported that 1 in 10 U.S. high-school students reported being hit or otherwise physically harmed by a dating partner within the last year.
The incidence of being hit, slapped or otherwise physically hurt was nearly equal between males and females who participated in the survey. But there were racial differences: There was a statistically significant increased rate of dating-violence among blacks (nearly 13 in 100) and multiracial youths (about 12 in 100) compared with whites and Asians (8 in 100) or Hispanics youth (about 1 in 10).
The study analyzed data from 100,901 students who participated in the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey (YRBSS) from 1999 to 2011. It concluded that more than 9 in 100 U.S. high school students have been "hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose" by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the last year, a rate that has not changed significantly in the last 12 years despite efforts to curb dating violence in the last decade.
The researchers, from Boston University’s School of Public Health (BUSPH), called the incidence of youth hurt by dating partners a serious public health concern because its consequences can include depression, eating disorders, injury and in the most severe cases, death.
"While 9 percent may sound low, this figure puts dating violence on par with many of the other public health issues that we tend to view as serious problems, such as obesity, frequent cigarette smoking or driving after drinking," Emily Rothman, associate professor of community health sciences at BUSPH, said in a news release. "The real concern here is that the rate has not gone down at all in the past 12 years, while the rate of physical fighting with peers has decreased significantly.
"That means that whatever headway we have made in reducing youth violence does not extend to people in dating or sexual relationships."
Malcolm Astley, the father of one girl who was murdered by her boyfriend, said parents, teachers, school counselors and legislators must grasp the extent of the problem of dating abuse and address it. The risk is most extreme during break-ups, and it’s up to adults to help kids understand and handle their feelings.
Which, like bullying, speaks to the necessity of parents knowing what’s going on in their childrens’ lives, even if the kids resist. It can be a matter of life and death.