CHICAGO (AP) — July 31, 20001 -- One in five high school girls
has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner, significantly
increasing their risk of drug abuse, suicide and other harmful behavior, a
The research published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical
Association stems from surveys of 4,163 public school students in
Massachusetts, but the authors say the results likely apply to teens
According to estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, 22 percent of high school students are victims of nonsexual
dating violence, with girls slightly more likely to report being victims.
The results also mirror domestic violence rates among adult women,
although some statistics indicate young women and teens are especially
prone, perhaps in part because they generally have more dating partners.
The study also suggests that a disturbing number of adolescent boys
``have adopted attitudes that men are entitled to control their
girlfriends through violence,'' said lead author Jay G. Silverman of
Harvard University's School of Public Health.
The study was based on results of statewide surveys given to students
in grades nine through 12 in 1997 and 1999. More than 70 percent of the
girls who participated were white, about 10 percent were Hispanic and
about 6 percent each were black or Asian.
Participants were asked if they'd ever been shoved, slapped, hit or
forced into any sexual activity, including rape, by a date. They also were
asked about recent risky behavior. Victimized girls were:
About eight to nine times more likely to have attempted suicide in the
Four to six times more likely to have ever been pregnant.
Three to five times more likely to have ever used cocaine
Three to four times more likely to have used unhealthy dieting methods
such as laxatives or vomiting.
The data don't indicate whether date violence is a cause of teens
engaging in unhealthy behaviors or whether already troubled girls are more
likely to date violent partners.
Silverman said some of the statistics and previous research suggest the
violence likely preceded the unhealthy behavior.
Dr. Marla Kushner, director of adolescent medicine at Chicago's Weiss
Memorial Hospital, said she suspects the problem may be more widespread
than Silverman's data suggest, since so few blacks were sampled and
previous studies found that blacks were more likely than whites to report
The prevalence of date rape and other sexual assaults prompted the
American Academy of Pediatrics in June to issue updated guidelines for
Citing statistics showing adolescents have the nation's highest rate of
rape, the academy said doctors should ask patients at regular checkups if
they've ever been sexually assaulted.
On the Net: JAMA: http://jama.ama-assn.org
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: http://www.ncadv.org