PEDIATRICS

Dating violence occurs in nearly one in six teens, a new University of Michigan study finds, with both genders reporting acting violent or experiencing violence within their dating relationships.

Stop the cycle

Teen dating violence study shows the importance of screening

issue 22 | Fall 2014

Dating during the teen years takes a violent turn for nearly one in six young people, a new study finds, with both genders reporting acting violent or experiencing violence within their dating relationships.

This startling number, drawn from a University of Michigan survey of more than 4,000 adolescent patients ages 14 to 20 seeking emergency care, indicates that dating violence is common and affects both genders.

Probing deeper, the study finds that those with depression or a history of using drugs or alcohol have a higher likelihood of acting as an aggressor or victim.

The findings, from the largest-ever study of the issue in a health care setting, suggest a need for health care providers to ask both young women and men about whether their relationships have ever turned violent, and to guide them to resources. The results were published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

"It's important to think about both genders when trying to identify teen dating violence, especially when there are associated conditions we may be assessing in the health care setting," says Vijay Singh, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., the study's lead author and U-M faculty member in Emergency Medicine and Family Medicine. "These data remind us that teen relationships are not immune to violence and should encourage providers to ask adolescent patients about this important issue."

Singh also co-wrote guidance for primary care providers on screening for intimate partner violence, published in Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice.