New study examines teen dating violence
The results of a new study were published on-line December 10, 2012, in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics: Longitudinal Associations Between Teen Dating Violence Victimization and Adverse Health Outcomes. This research was conducted by Deinera Exner-Cortens, MPH, John Eckenrode, PhD, and Emily Rothman, ScD. Both Exner-Cortens and Edkenrode are from Department of Human Development and Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York and Rothman is from the Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
This is an interesting study because it seeks to examine if there are long range health effects caused by teen dating violence. It would seem to follow that this would be the case; but, as with so many life events, victims will often hide the fact that they experienced dating violence: they don’t discuss it with their parents, their school teachers or school health officials or with their pediatrician or general practitioner. To complicate the issue, parents, school officials and medical professionals seldom consider that they should be asking a teen if she/he has experienced dating violence.
An overview of the research methods…
The following are highlights of the data gathered:
- The researchers looked at a representative sample from US high schools and middle schools
- There were 5681 participants ages 12 to 18 years old
- All participants reported experiencing heterosexual dating
- The participants were followed-up with at ages 18 to 25, respectively
An overview of the research results…
The following are highlights of the research findings, adjusting for variables:
- Adolescent females who reported victimization by a boyfriend later had a greater chance of heavy drinking, smoking, depression symptoms and suicide ideation.
- Adolescent males who reported victimization by a girlfriend were more likely to later report suicidal thoughts, marijuana use and increased anti-social behavior.
- Boys and girls who were victimized as teenagers had around two to three times the likelihood of being in violent relationships again later in life.
Observations from the researchers…
Denise Mann of WebMD reports that Deinera Exner-Cortens observes:
“Children and teens need to know what it means to be in a healthy dating
relationship. Parents, teachers, and health care providers
all have a role to play in encouraging healthy relationships and
modeling respect, trust, and open communication.”
After all, dating should be a healthy and fun learning experience
As children approach their teen years it is often with much anticipation: they look forward to attending middle school and high-school, participating in sports, school clubs, working on the school newspaper, serving on the student council, learning new subjects and planning for the future. Parents will often try to relive their own teen years by being actively involved as their children go to their first school dance and start dating. Parents hope for the best, as do all teens.
But parents should also watch for signs of isolation. For example, does your teen-age daughter suddenly seem not to want to socialize with her friends? Does she look forward to dating? Has your son’s attitude changed about getting together with friends? As a parent, it will help to take the time to discuss your suspicions about dating violence with your child’s health care provider. It is never too early to get involved and allow your teenager to learn about prevention programs.