Preliminary Results in Landmark National Survey on Teen Dating Violence Finds Disturbingly High Rates of Victimization and Perpetration by Both Girls and Boys
10/23/2014, Bethesda, MD.—NORC at the University of Chicago (NORC) has released results of the National Survey on Teen Relationships and Intimate Violence (STRiV) (Insert Link), revealing that approximately two-thirds of both teenage boys and girls report being both victim and perpetrator of adolescent relationship abuse (ARA). Nearly 20% of both boys and girls are reporting themselves as victims of physical abuse and sexual abuse in dating relationships, and 58% of dating teens report being both victims and perpetrators of any forms of adolescent relationship abuse (this finding is not just limited to psychological abuse).
The findings emerge from the 2013 baseline wave of results from STRiV, the first comprehensive longitudinal survey of adolescent relationship abuse (ARA) in the U.S., including ground breaking estimates of the perpetration of teen dating violence. The research is funded by Grant 2011-WG-BX-0020 ($899,908 – FY 2011 Research on Violence and Victimization Across the Life Span: Teen Dating Violence) from the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice (www.nij.gov) and conducted by researchers at NORC (www.norc.org).
Adolescent relationship abuse, also called teen dating violence, can take the form of physical abuse; emotional, verbal, and psychological abuse; or sexual abuse. It can occur in person or through electronic means, in both public and private spaces, and between current or past dating partners.
“Until now, estimates of adolescent relationship abuse have been incomplete, sometimes contradictory, and often focus on victimization to the exclusion of perpetration,” says Bruce Taylor, co-Principal Investigator with Elizabeth Mumford of this Department of Justice funded study. “We now have strong national data that reveals the startlingly widespread nature of this problem, with more than two-thirds of American youth both its victims and almost as many its perpetrators.” In general, STRiV data using more comprehensive measures reveal higher rates of ARA than found in prior studies.
A key finding of the survey is that there are fairly similar rates for girls and boys reporting victimization and/or perpetration of overall adolescent relationship abuse, including sexual abuse, physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual harassment, and online sexual harassment. In fact, boys and girls are more likely to report involvement in both ARA perpetration and victimization, rather than the typical distinction of being only a perpetrator or a victim. Further, the results indicate no statistical differences for any of the reported perpetration behaviors or victimization experiences by household income, urban versus non-urban dwelling, or region of the country. The older age group (15-18) reported higher rates of ARA in dating relationships than younger adolescents (12-14), highlighting that this widespread social problem tends to get worse as kids gain more independence.
The baseline findings include:
• ADOLESCENT RELATIONSHIP ABUSE (ARA): 68.7% of the sample reported ever experiencing any ARA victimization. 62.7% of the sample reported ever perpetrating any ARA.
• PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE: 65.5% of the sample reported psychological abuse victimization. 62% of the sample reported psychological abuse perpetration.
• SEXUAL ABUSE: 18% of the sample reported sexual abuse victimization. 12% of the sample reported sexual abuse perpetration.
• PHYSICAL ABUSE: 17.5% of the sample reported physical abuse victimization. 11.9% of the sample reported physical abuse perpetration.
• SEXUAL HARASSMENT: 30.2% of the sample reported experiences of sexual harassment victimization. 10.6% of the sample reported perpetrating sexual harassment.
• ONLINE SEXUAL HARASSMENT: 12.3% of the sample reported experiences of online sexual harassment victimization. 4% of the sample reported experiences of online sexual harassment perpetration.
“Adolescent relationship abuse can have serious long-term consequences, leading to problematic behaviors, poor health outcomes, and increased truancy,” said Elizabeth Mumford. “Along with clarifying the extent of the problem, STRiV results have the potential to help identify at-risk populations for teen dating violence, and young adult relationship aggression by helping clinicians’ better focus their work on when and with whom to intervene.”
Mumford noted that previous research suggesting the extent of the ARA issue led to research that shows there are a number of promising prevention interventions designed for younger adolescents that reduce the occurrence of teen dating violence, such as Safe Dates, Shifting Boundaries, Families for Safe Dates, and other promising programs are currently being tested.”
“Until now, estimates of adolescent relationship abuse have been incomplete, sometimes contradictory, and often focus on victimization to the exclusion of perpetration.”
From a random representative sample of U.S. households, from October 2013 to December 2013, in NORC at the University of Chicago interviewed 2,288 youth ages 10 to 18 as well as one of their parents or their primary adult caretaker via web survey. A second and final wave of data collection is planned for October 2014.
With a sample of 2,288 youth (evenly distributed across the age range 10-18), 63% were White, 9% were Black, 22% were Hispanic, and 6% were Other/Multiracial. Half of the sampled households report income under $60,000. Two out of five youth (43%) reported current dating relationships that had lasted for at least one week.
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