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A new study in the Pediatrics journal finds that an estimated 30 percent of U. adolescents are the victims of an “aggressive heterosexual dating relationship,” a particularly troubling statistic given the significant public health risks that can result from intimate partner violence in teenage relationships.
About 20 percent of respondents of both genders said they had experienced some type of psychological violence within a dating relationship, and ten percent of girls and eight percent of boys cited both psychological and physical violence.
“For example, it can be something like a prom date saying ‘I’m going to have sex with her/him on prom night,’ as opposed to ‘We [are going to have sex on prom night].’ It is all about power and control.”When Christiane Stahl, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System (UI Health), sees patients who may be involved in a violent relationship, she tries to engage in anticipatory guidance with boys and girls to talk about how healthy relationships do involve coercion or violence.“This is particularly important when there has been household violence or single parenting without modeling of partnership,” she explains.The authors of the study note that their work represents one more addition to a growing body of research that suggests teen dating violence “is a substantial public health problem” in the United States.Researchers analyzed a nationally representative sample of more than 5,000 U. adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 to determine whether or not they were engaging in healthy romantic relationships.Exner-Cortens did suggest that the power imbalance in abusive heterosexual relationships often tips toward men.