About one in three American youths between the ages of 14 and 20 say they’ve been of victims of dating violence — and almost one in three say they’ve committed violence toward a date, according to new research presented at the American Psychological Association’s 121st Annual Convention.
“These rates of adolescent dating violence are alarming and suggest that dating violence is simply too common among our youth,” said Michele Ybarra, Ph.D., M.P.H., with the Center for Innovative Public Health Research, based in San Clemente, Calif.
For the study, researchers analyzed information collected in 2011 and 2012 from 1,058 youths in the Growing Up with Media study, a national online survey funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study defines teen dating violence as physical, sexual or psychological/emotional violence within a dating relationship.
The researchers found that girls were almost equally likely to be a perpetrator as a victim of violence, with 41 percent reporting victimization and 35 percent reporting perpetration at some point in their lives.
Among boys, 37 percent said they had been on the receiving end, while 29 percent reported being the perpetrator, Ybarra said. She added that 29 percent of the girls and 24 percent of the boys reported being both a victim and perpetrator.
Girls were significantly more likely than boys to say they had been victims of sexual dating violence and that they had committed physical dating violence, according to the study.
Boys were much more likely to report that they had been sexually violent toward a date.
Experiencing psychological dating violence was about equal for boys and girls. Rates generally increased with age, but were similar across race, ethnicity and income levels, according to Ybarra.
“The significant overlap of victimization, perpetration and the different kinds of teen dating violence makes it important when designing prevention programs not to assume there are distinct victims and perpetrators,” Ybarra said.
“We need to think about the dynamics within relationships that may result in someone both perpetrating and being victimized by their partner; as well as the extent to which dating abuse may follow a teen from one relationship to another.”