Teen Dating Violence More Common Than We Think

Study finds that almost 1 in 3 teens is a victim. 

Posted: 08/09/2013 12:20 PM EDT

While for so long we often looked at domestic violence — physical, emotional and sexual abuse — as a problem for adults, more and more research is finding that this type of abuse impacts young people as well.

A new study presented at the American Psychological Association Annual conference in Hawaii last week had some shocking findings: More than 30 percent of all teens in the U.S. have been a victim of an abusive relationship or an abuser in a past relationship. This number is much higher than past studies have found.  

According to HealthDay News, researchers from Center for Innovative Public Health Research in San Clemente, Calif., surveyed more than 1,000 young people ages 14-20 and found the following:

— In terms of young women and girls, 35 percent reported being an abuser, 41 percent said they were victims and 29 percent said they were both victims and perpetrators. 

— In terms of young men and boys, 29 percent reported being an abuser, 37 percent said they have been abused and 24 percent have been both.

And while the report highlighted that gender doesn’t limit who can be a perpetrator, researchers were clear: When girls are the abusers, it’s usually light hitting and name calling, not the severe abuse and sexual assault that girls likely face by the opposite sex, USA Today wrote.

Another study presented at the conference found that bullying and abuse played hand in hand for middle school students. Ten percent said they had been hit or slapped by a person they dated, 11 percent had bit someone they were dating and 25 percent used “hostile” and aggressive tones with their significant other.

It’s important to point out that teen dating violence can have long-lasting effects and is an issue for all communities, including ours.

Past research from the National Conference of State Legislatures found that African-American and Latino students report higher rates of dating violence than white students. The CDC's 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey indicates that adolescents who reported being physically hurt in a dating relationship were also more likely to report that they engage in risky sexual behavior, binge drink, use drugs, attempt suicide and participate in physical fights.

There is also a growing body of data that has found that abuse puts women more at risk for contracting HIV.

Learn more about teen dating violence, warning signs and resources here.

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 (Photo: Getty Images/Blend Images)

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