Dating Violence Victimization: Associated Drinking and Sexual Risk Behaviors of Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Caucasian High School Students in Hawaii

By Ramisetty-Mikler, Suhasini; Goebert, Deborah et al. | Journal of School Health, October 2006 | Go to article overview

Dating Violence Victimization: Associated Drinking and Sexual Risk Behaviors of Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Caucasian High School Students in Hawaii


Ramisetty-Mikler, Suhasini, Goebert, Deborah, Nishimura, Stephanie, Caetano, Raul, Journal of School Health


During the last decade, there has been a continuous growth of research on dating violence focusing on high school and college students. (1,2) There is no universal consensus on the definition of dating violence. The US Department of Justice defines dating violence as "the perpetration or threat of an act of violence by at least 1 member of an unmarried couple on the other member within the context of dating or courtship." (3) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines dating violence as encompassing "any form of sexual assault, physical violence, and verbal or emotional abuse" within the context of dating. (4) It occurs across all social-economic classes, and all racial groups with most victims being young women who are also at a higher risk for serious injury. Women aged 16-24 experience the highest rates of violence--nearly 20 per 1000 women. (3,5) The terms "violence" and "dating violence" are used interchangeably in this paper and "partner violence" refers to violence between adult couples who are either married or cohabiting.

Although society is becoming more aware of adult couple violence, the issue of dating violence among adolescents has not received sufficient attention. (6) Further, fewer studies have addressed risk factors of dating violence and the mechanism by which these factors operate. The majority of adolescents tend to date steadily by 16, and many experience an episode of violence as early as age 15, suggesting that those who begin dating earlier are more likely to become a victim. (7) However, studies report varying prevalence rates (lifetime or 12 month), for a wide range of aggressive and coercive behaviors. Research indicates that dating violence occurs at fairly high rates with the lower bound around 8-9% when a specific type such as physical violence that is most often and easily measured is considered. When several forms are considered, the rates are as high as 96%. For example, the prevalence of dating violence including verbal, physical, and sexual among adolescents ranges from 9% to 39%. (6,8,9) Recent studies estimate that 28-96% of adolescents are victims of dating violence with some studies reporting rates as high as 60%. (2,10,11)

Gender differences exist in the type and rates of dating violence experienced. Females are frequently victimized as well as experience more severe dating violence perpetrated by their male partners. For example, female teens perpetrate more or less minor acts of violence than do male teens but are also likely to receive physical injuries and are more likely to be sexually abused. (11) Female teens reported that male dates initiated abuse 70% of the time, and males reported that their female dates initiated abuse 27% of the time. (12) Approximately 1 in 5 high school girls have reported being abused by a boyfriend, (13) and approximately 1 out of every 3 high school and college students have experienced sexual, physical, verbal, or emotional violence while dating. (1,14) A recent review reported that physical violence victimization among girls range from 8% to 57% and 6% to 38% among boys. (15,16) Another study found that 45% of female and 43% of male high school students were victimized by their dating partners at least once. Males report physical abuse (eg, being slapped and hit with a fist or an object) more often than females, while females report significantly more sexual abuse than males. Both males and females report that males are frequently the initiators of dating violence. (17)

The CDC reports 12-month prevalence of only physical violence (hit, slap, or physically hurt) resulting in lower estimates as compared to the estimates reported above. Based on the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data, dating violence victimization among high school students remained constant (8.8%, 9.5%, and 8.9% in 1999, 2001, and 2003 respectively), with apparent gender and ethnic disparities. A higher proportion of females (12. …

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