Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to experience adverse health behaviors and outcomes in young adulthood, according to a study published in the January 2013 issue of Pediatrics (released online Dec. 10, 2012).
The study, “Longitudinal Associations Between Teen Dating Violence Victimization and Adverse Health Outcomes,” surveyed 5,681 adolescents ages 12 to 18 from 1994-2002, as part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.
Compared to adolescents reporting no dating violence, teen girls who were victimized by a boyfriend were more likely to engage in smoking and heavy drinking, and to experience symptoms of depression and thoughts of suicide five years later. Teen boys victimized by a girlfriend reported increased anti-social behaviors and suicidal thoughts, and were more likely to use marijuana five years later. Both males and females who were in aggressive relationships as teens were two to three times more likely to be in violent relationships again as adults, compared to teens who experienced no dating violence during their adolescent years.
Study authors recommend that pediatricians and adolescent health care providers ask their patients if they are experiencing dating violence, so that those who are being victimized are linked quickly with needed prevention programs and treatment.