Physical Dating Violence (PDV) victimization among adolescent males is as prevalent as among girls (MMWR, 2006), yet receives little research attention. Studies which have examined dating violence in the context of teen heterosexual and same-sex romantic relationships suggest that PDV is reciprocal in nature, with both partners likely to be perpetrators or victims (Halpern, Oslak, Young, Waller, Martin, & Kupper, 2004; Gaertner & Foshee, 1999; Gray & Foshee, 1997; Foshee, 1996).
While females are more likely to suffer serious injury from dating violence (Halpern et al., 2001; Foshee, 1996; Lane & Gwartney-Gibbs, 1985), the toll this violence takes on male victims, both emotionally and physically, and the extent to which victimization experiences affect their behavior in adult relationships is poorly understood. Indeed, if dating during adolescence is preparation for adult intimate partner relations, and patterns learned early become habituated, then current statistics should prompt such investigations now (Hyman, 1999; Torrey & Lee, 1987; O'Leary, Barling, Arias, Rosenbaum, Maline, & Tyree, 1989). Without research into the risk profile of adolescent males who are more likely to report dating violence, our ability to identify who is vulnerable and to intervene in a timely fashion before development of psychosocial sequelae is severely restricted.
Moreover, the psychosocial correlates of dating violence, when examined by gender, point to important differences (Halpern et al., 2001; Howard & Wang, 2003a,b). Findings from the national 1999 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) indicated that, overall, being a victim of dating violence was associated with reports of sad/hopeless feelings and engagement in high-risk sexual practices, specifically, recent multiple sex partners and unprotected sex. Among males, however, attempted suicide and fighting behavior were correlated with victimization, while among females, binge drinking and cocaine or inhalant use were predictors (Howard & Wang, 2003a,b). There is a need to determine if this clustering of risk factors among adolescent boys who are victims of dating violence is robust. Indeed, tailoring of interventions to account for these gender-specific differences is likely to be most effective. Thus, the aims of the present study were to examine the prevalence of dating violence among a representative sample of U.S. high school males and to present a profile of the psychosocial correlates of victimization.
The 2005 national school-based Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data were used for this study. The YRBS is one component of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) that was established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor the prevalence of youth behaviors that most influence health. Comprehensive design and sampling procedures are available from the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report series, and are excerpted here in condensed form (MMWR, 2006). The YRBS survey used a three-stage cluster sample design to produce a nationally representative sample of high school students in grades 9-12. The first stage contained 1,270 primary sampling units (PSUs), which consisted of large counties or groups of smaller, adjacent counties. From these, 52 were selected from 16 strata, formed on the basis of the degree of urbanization and the relative percentage of African-American and Hispanic students in the PSU. Each PSU was selected with probability proportional to size of the school enrollment. The second sampling stage selected 203 'schools, also with probability proportional to school enrollment size. The third stage randomly selected one or two intact classes of a required subject (e.g., English or social studies) from the entire 9th-12th grades at the chosen school. All students in the selected classes were eligible as participants. …