Youth Dating Violence

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Adolescents' responses to the Youth Dating Violence Survey have previously been documented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1996). The present study on dating violence examined the responses of thirty-seven adolescents enrolled in an alternative high school program. Many reported psychological victimization in a dating relationship: their partners did something to make them feel jealous, damaged their possessions, said things to hurt their feelings, insulted them in front of others, tried to control them, threatened them, blamed them for bad things the dating partners did, and brought up something from the past to hurt them. In terms of perpetrating psychological abuse in a dating relationship, over half of the adolescents reported that they hurt their dating partners' feelings, insulted them in front of others, did something just to make them jealous, tried to control them, and damaged their possessions. Many of the adolescents had also been victims of physical violence in their dating rela tionships; they reported being scratched, slapped, slammed or held against a wall, kicked, bitten, forced to have sex, choked, and pushed, grabbed, or shoved, as well as having their arms twisted and fingers bent. Some perpetrated physical violence in dating situations, such as scratching their dating partners, hitting them with a fist or something hard, throwing something that hit their dating partners, kicking them, slapping them, physically twisting their arms, slamming or holding them against a wall, bending their fingers, biting them, choking them, and pushing, grabbing, or shoving them. The findings confirm that dating violence among adolescents is a serious health problem that needs to be addressed.

The majority of research on dating violence has focused on college students, a population that is not very representative of high school students and ethnic minority groups. However, researchers increasingly are examining intimate partner violence using high school samples (Barth & Derezotes, 1990; Cascardi, Avery-Leaf, & O'Leary, 1994; Foshee et al., 1996; Jaffe et al., 1992; Sundermann & Jaffe, 1993).

In their groundbreaking study of high school age youth, Henton and Cate (1983) found that 12% had experienced abuse in one of their dating relationships. Roscoe and Callahan (1985), examining middleclass high school students in a white Michigan community, found that 9% of the males and females had experienced physical violence while on a date, with 10% of the females reporting physical violence in a dating relationship. Among adolescents from both predominantly white suburban and rural schools and multiracial inner-city schools, it was found that approximately 20% had experienced violence from a dating partner (Bergman, 1992). Additional studies on adolescents experiencing at least one incident of physical violence in a dating relationship have reported the following rates: 19% (Roscoe & Kelsey, 1986), 27% (O'Keefe, Nona, Brockopp, & Chew, 1986), and 38% (Molidor & Tolman, 1995). Jezl et al. (1996), examining abuse in a coed, ethnically diverse, religiously affiliated high school sample, found that 59% had be en the victim of physical violence, 96% had experienced some form of psychological abuse, and 15% had been forced to engage in sexual activity at least once in a past or current dating relationship. Foshee et al. (1996) investigated a racially diverse sample of adolescents (75.9% Caucasian, 20.2% African American, and 3.9% other racial/ethnic groups) and found that approximately 20% had experienced dating violence. O'Keefe's (1997) research on high school students (53% Latino, 20% white, 13% African American, 6.7% Asian American, and 7% other racial/ethnic groups) revealed that 43% of the females and 39% of the males had been physically aggressive toward a dating partner at least once.

These findings indicate that dating violence is a significant problem among adolescents. …