Teenage Girls and Dating Violence: Why We Should Be Paying Attention

3

You’re reading In Her Words, where women rule the headlines.

Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox. Let me know what you think at dearmaya@nytimes.com.

“This is a public health issue that should be taken seriously.”

Avanti Adhia, the lead author of a new study about teen dating violence

It’s no secret that intimate partner violence is a leading killer of women in the United States: More than half of homicides of women are at the hands of a romantic partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now it appears that this type of violence is also affecting adolescent girls.

A new study found that of nearly 2,200 homicides of young people from 2003 to 2016, some 7 percent — or 150 of those deaths — were at the hands of current or former intimate partners. Girls made up 90 percent of the victims, underscoring the importance of not discounting early dating relationships as casual or pretend.

“While the dynamics of these relationship may be quite different than among adults, this is a public health issue we need to take seriously,” said Avanti Adhia, who led the study, one of the most comprehensive ever on the topic, which was published in the April issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

Dating violence among teenagers has the potential to lead to death, she went on, and girls are at the highest risk.

Breakups or jealousy precipitated more than a quarter of the homicides, researchers found, and a majority of the deaths involved guns (which are also a major factor in the number of adult women killed by their partners). The average age of girls killed was 17, while their partners were, on average, 21.

The fact that teenagers are grappling with intimate partner violence might be surprising, but it’s actually incredibly common.

In 2017 alone, 7 percent of high schoolers said they had experienced sexual violence by a dating partner, and 8 percent reported physical violence, according to C.D.C. “That translates to a huge number of adolescents,” Adhia said.

Include psychological abuse, and these numbers rise significantly. More than 60 percent of adolescents who date (both boys and girls) said they had experienced physical, sexual or psychological abuse from a partner, according to the National Survey on Teen Relationships and Intimate Violence published in 2016.

“These relationships set the stage for future relationships,” Adhia said, adding that this abuse could lead to long-lasting emotional scars like anxiety, depression, substance use, antisocial behavior, eating disorders and suicidal thoughts.

What can be done? Dr. Megan Bair-Merritt, a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Medicine who wrote an editorial to accompany the study, says it’s important for adults to foster open and honest conversations about relationships with the children in their lives, even before they start dating.

Children should also know they have “safe adults” (parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches) to rely on during hard times, Bair-Merritt said.

“Safe relationships with adults buffer from stressors,” she said. “The more, the better.”

If you or someone you know needs help, support is available. Visit the The National Teen Dating Abuse, call (866) 331-9474 or text LOVEIS to 22522.

______

Here are five articles from The Times you might have missed.

Image

CreditPhotograph by Kristin-Lee Moolman for T Magazine; styled by Suzanne Koller

“I will not back down from being a woman, from being black, from having an opinion.” Rihanna, above, will become the first black woman in charge of a major luxury fashion house in Paris. She gave T Magazine an exclusive first look. [Read the story]

“I didn’t want to be the person making noise.” In newly filed complaints, McDonald’s employees described repeated sexual harassment and then punishment for speaking out. [Read the story]

“We’ve let corporations hide their wage gaps.” Senator Kamala Harris has a plan to close the gender wage gap by requiring larger companies to certify that men and women are paid equally, and to penalize those that don’t. [Read the story]

“We are disproportionately poor and disproportionately sick.” Black feminists are securing progressive victories in a place where that long seemed impossible. [Read the story]

“This is a wave.” The raw cultural momentum of the anti-abortion movement has taken over, and it shows no signs of slowing. [Read the story]

Sign up here to get future installments of In Her Words delivered to your inbox.

______

Image

Almost exactly 66 years ago, on May 18, 1953, Jacqueline Cochran became the first woman in history to break the sound barrier.

Before shattering it at 652 miles per hour, friends had urged Cochran to give up flying while she was “still ahead of the game,” The Times reported. But when she spotted an opportunity to accomplish the feat, she couldn’t resist.

During her life, Cochran acquired more speed and distance records than any other pilot, male or female. She was also the first woman to fly a bomber across the Atlantic Ocean during World War II, which led to the formation of the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots — an accomplishment that earned her a Distinguished Service Medal.

Read past articles here.

Sign up here to get In Her Words delivered to your inbox!

Are you on Instagram? Follow us here.

Source: The New York Times