Twenty-one percent of teen girls and 10% of teen boys say that they have been physically or sexually assaulted by someone they were dating. Although the percentage for boys was what was found in previous surveys, this is twice the percentage of girls who say they have been assaulted as previously estimated.
These findings come from a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention based on the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Study, a national survey. Part of the increase may be due to changes in the wording of the questionnaire used in 2013. The changes were intended to capture information on more serious forms of teen dating violence and to screen out teens that were not dating.
Teen girls were more likely than male students to say they have experienced physical dating violence only, sexual dating violence only, both physical and sexual dating violence, and any dating violence.
The incidence of teen dating violence is troubling. Teens who say they have experienced an assault from someone they were dating are more likely to consider suicide, to get into fights, to carry a weapon, to have multiple sex partners, and to use alcohol, marijuana, or cocaine. Risky health behavior such as these were more common in teens who said they had experienced both physical and sexual dating violence and were least common in the teens who said they had not experienced dating violence. However, it is not known if the dating violence causes these other events or the events are more likely to happen to someone who is prone to an abusive relationship for some other reason.
The survey looked at responses from 9,900 students who dated, taken from a nationally representative sample of American high school students. They were asked if they had experienced both physical and sexual dating violence, any dating violence, or no dating violence.
The study was published in JAMA Pediatrics.