Physical dating violence (PDV) affects almost one in every 11 adolescents, according to research presented at the American Public Health Association’s 135th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
The study, which looked at data from the 2005 National Youth Risk Behavior Study, also found that contrary to common general perception, males and females equally report being victims of PDV. The researchers found that in their study population of 6,951 male and 6,807 female students in grades 9 through 12, 9 percent of boys and 9.2 percent of girls responded yes to the question “during the past 12 months, did your boyfriend or girlfriend ever hit, slap, or physically hurt you on purpose.”
Also significant among the findings was that certain behaviors are associated with being a victim of PDV. For both male and female adolescents, current sexual activity, alcohol use, physical fighting, sexual victimization and suicidal thoughts were significant predictors of PDV. Poor body image was a significant predictor of PDV in females but not in males, whereas illicit drug use was a significant predictor in males but not in females.
“It is imperative that counselors and care providers are aware of the gender differences in the predictors of physical dating violence in adolescents,” said Saba Masho, MD, MPH, DrPH, lead researcher on the study. “Knowing these differences will alert them to pay particular attention to female adolescents with poor body image and male adolescents using illicit drugs.”
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