During adolescence, many youths enter their first romantic relationship (Goncy, Farrell, and Sullivan, 2016; Scott et al., 2011; East and Hokoda, 2014). In some of these romantic relationships, adolescents may experience teen dating violence, as either a perpetrator or a victim—and many as both (Basile et al., 2020; Taylor and Mumford, 2016; Ybarra et al., 2016). Such abuse or victimization can have significant impacts on many facets of a young person’s life, with long-term consequences that may last past the end of the relationships and well into their adulthood (Mendoza and Mulford, 2018; Scott et al., 2011; Exner–Cortens, Eckenrode, and Rothman, 2013).
Dating violence is a complex issue that includes a variety of abusive behaviors. In the past, dating violence research focused primarily on college-age or young adults; however, there has been a steady increase in dating violence research on adolescent relationships (Bonache, Gonzalez–Mendez, and Krahe, 2017; Datta, Cornell, and Konold, 2020; Hamby, Finkelhor, and Turner, 2012).
This literature review will discuss research surrounding teen dating violence, including definitions of different types of dating violence, the scope of the problem, risk and protective factors related to perpetration and victimization, short- and long-term consequences, and outcome evidence of programs that seek to prevent or reduce the occurrence of teen dating violence. This review focuses on dating violence that occurs between adolescents in middle and high school (primarily youth ages 12 to 18). The terms teens, youths, and adolescents are used interchangeably throughout the review.
Teen dating violence is a form of intimate-partner violence. Teen dating violence is defined by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ, 2018) as “physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; harassment; or stalking that occurs among persons ages 12 to 18 within the context of a past or present romantic or consensual relationship.” Teen dating violence may also be referred to as teen dating abuse, adolescent relationship abuse, adolescent dating abuse, intimate-partner violence among adolescents, or intimate relationship abuse among adolescents.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2019) identify four types of teen dating violence and defines them as follows:
- Physical dating violence refers to when a person “hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, or using another type of physical force.”
- Sexual dating violence refers to “forcing or attempting to force a partner to take part in a sex act, sexual touching, or a nonphysical sexual event (e.g., sexting) when the partner does not or cannot consent.”
- Psychological aggression refers to “the use of verbal and nonverbal communication with the intent to harm another person mentally or emotionally and/or exert control over another person.” This type of aggression can include swearing at, insulting, or threatening an intimate partner; isolating an intimate partner or not letting an intimate partner talk with people of the opposite sex; insulting the intimate partner’s looks or saying hurtful things about them in front of others; or doing something to make an intimate partner jealous (Teten et al., 2009).
- Stalking refers to “a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact by a partner that causes fear or concern for one’s own safety or the safety of someone close to the victim.”
In addition, a newer form of dating violence, cyber dating abuse, involves “the use of technology to control, harass, threaten, or stalk another person in the context of a dating relationship” (Dick et al., 2014: 1561). Some examples are pressuring partners to send a sexual/naked photo of themselves, spreading rumors by text or other messaging platforms, making partners afraid when they do not respond to a text or message, and harassing partners by using information from a social networking site (Zweig et al., 2013). Another term used by researchers is digital dating abuse, which is a “pattern of behaviors using mobile phones and social media to harass, pressure, coerce, and threaten a dating partner” (Reed et al., 2021, 1). Researchers also have used the terms technology-assisted adolescent dating violence (Stonard, 2020) and electronic aggression (Bennett et al., 2011).
More generally, intimate-partner violence is defined as physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former intimate partner (NIJ, 2019). Intimate-partner violence has historically been called “domestic violence” and can occur among both heterosexual and same-sex couples.
The scope of the teen dating violence problem in the United States ranges from psychological abuse to the most extreme form of dating violence—homicide. The sections that follow provide victimization and perpetration rates relating to teen dating violence. These rates come primarily from surveys or studies that included nationally representative youth samples, rather than studies conducted in a single location.
Victimization Rates of Teen Dating Violence
Teen dating violence affects millions of youths in the United States every year. The information below discusses rates of victimization for physical, sexual, and psychological dating violence.
Physical Dating Violence. The CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) is a national school-based survey conducted with students in grades 9 to 12 that includes questions about health-related behaviors, such as those that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence; alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use; and sexual behaviors. In 2019, more than 13,500 surveys were completed from a nationally representative sample of public and private schools in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (Basile et al., 2020). Results from the 2019 survey provide the following information on physical dating violence victimization that had been experienced by students in the previous year:
- Sixty-six percent of surveyed students reported having dated someone in the last year. Of the 66 percent, 8.2 percent reported being physically hurt on purpose by their dating partner.
- Female students were more likely to report having experienced physical dating violence victimization than male students (9.3 percent versus 7.0 percent, respectively). This difference was statistically significant.
- With regard to sexual orientation, 7.2 percent of heterosexual students; 13.1 percent of gay, lesbian, and bisexual students; and 16.9 percent of questioning students reported experiencing physical dating violence. These differences were statistically significant.
- Although there were slight differences by race, they were not statistically significant (Basile et al., 2020).
Other epidemiological studies also illustrate teens’ experience of dating violence. As part of the Growing Up With Media study (Ybarra et al., 2016), a subsample of 1,058 nationally representative youths, ages 14 to 21, who reported ever having had a romantic relationship were asked about their experiences with adolescent dating abuse (ADA), including nondefensive physical, sexual, and psychological abuse, in their lifetimes. Rates were reported for all youths, dating and nondating, to provide population-based estimates. The survey found that 19 percent of youths reported being the victims of nondefensive physical ADA. Female and male youths reported experiencing nondefensive physical ADA at about the same rate (18.5 percent and 19.4 percent, respectively).
Another study (Hamby, Finkelhor, and Turner, 2012) used data from the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV) to explore the co-occurrence of physical teen dating violence victimization with other forms of victimization. The study included a subsample of 1,680 youths, ages 12 to 17, from the NatSCEV (which is a nationally representative survey of more than 4,500 children ranging from 1 month to 17 years old). Approximately 6.4 percent of the sample reported being a victim of physical teen dating violence (although more males than females reported victimization, the rates of physical injury from dating violence were three times higher for females as for males). The results showed that every victim of physical teen dating violence (100 percent) also reported at least one other type of victimization, including physical abuse by a caregiver, sexual victimization (such as rape or sexual harassment), or gang or group assault. The results from this research suggest that teen dating violence is closely related to other forms of violent victimization, and thus it may not be useful to research teen dating violence apart from other forms of violence (Hamby, Finkelhor, and Turner, 2012).
Sexual Dating Violence. The 2019 YRBS survey found that, of the 66 percent of surveyed students who had reported dating someone in the previous year, 8.2 percent reported that they had been forced to perform sexual acts by their dating partner that they did not want, such as kissing, touching, or being physically forced to have sexual intercourse. Female students were more likely to report having experienced sexual dating violence victimization than male students (12.6 percent versus 3.8 percent, respectively). Additionally, about 6.7 percent of heterosexual students; 16.4 percent of gay, lesbian, or bisexual students; and 15.0 percent of questioning students reported experiencing sexual dating violence. These were all statistically significant differences. However, the YRBS did not find any statistically significant differences in sexual dating violence victimization by race (Basile et al., 2020).
The Growing Up With Media study found similar results. The study showed that 10.8 percent of youths reported being the victims of sexual ADA, and a greater number of females (13.6 percent) reported sexual ADA, compared with males (8.3 percent), though this difference was not statistically significant (Ybarra et al., 2016).
Psychological Dating Violence. The Growing Up With Media study (Ybarra et al., 2016) found that 40.9 percent of youths reported being the victims of psychological dating violence, and that this was the most common form of dating violence experienced by youths in the study. In regard to gender, a greater proportion of females (47.1 percent) than males (35.3 percent) reported being the victims of psychological dating violence.
The National Survey on Teen Relationships and Intimate Violence (STRiV), a nationally representative household survey that specifically focused on asking about adolescent relationship abuse (ARA), also found that the rate of youths reporting any psychological ARA was high (65.5 percent), compared with physical and sexual victimization rates. Approximately 65 percent of all youths reported moderate psychological abuse victimization (e.g., accusations of flirting, threats to end the relationship, or jealous behavior), and 12.1 percent reported serious psychological abuse victimization (spreading rumors about the victim or trying to turn the victim’s friends against them). Rates by gender were similar, with 65.7 percent of boys and 65.3 percent of girls reporting that they had experienced psychological ARA (Taylor and Mumford, 2016).
Stalking and Harassment. There is less research on stalking and harassment within teen dating relationships, compared with other types of dating violence. The research that does examine this type of dating violence has looked at the behavior in general or among acquaintances, and not in a dating relationship specifically (Mennicke et al., 2021; Smith–Darden, Reidy, and Kernsmith 2016). Evidence suggests that adolescents are more likely to stalk casual acquaintances than current or former dating partners, despite the majority of adolescents reporting being most afraid of being stalked by former partners (Fisher et al., 2014; Smith–Darden, Reidy, and Kernsmith 2016). The STRiV study did examine stalking and harassment in teen dating relationships, finding that, among youths with some dating experience, 48 percent were victims of stalking or harassment—defined as having a partner who had ever spied on or followed them, damaged something that belonged to them, or gone through their online accounts (Rothman et al., 2021).
Summary. Overall, the research and data suggest that rates of sexual and physical teen dating violence victimization range from 7 percent to 19 percent; about half of dating youths experience stalking or harassment, and rates of psychological dating violence may be as high as 65 percent. Ultimately, rates vary by gender and sexual orientation (Basile et al., 2020; Rothman et al., 2021; Ybarra et al., 2016; Taylor and Mumford, 2016).
Perpetration Rates of Teen Dating Violence
Generally, studies have found that fewer teenagers report perpetrating physical, sexual, or psychological dating violence than report being victims. For example, the 2016 study by Ybarra and colleagues found that
- Approximately 39.2 percent of teens reported perpetrating psychological ADA, 17.0 percent reported perpetrating physical ADA, and 3.2 percent reported perpetrating sexual ADA.
- With regard to gender, almost twice as many females (23.0 percent) as males (12.1 percent) reported perpetrating physical ADA. Females were also more likely to report perpetrating psychological ADA than males (46.3 percent versus 32.9 percent, respectively). However, a far greater proportion of males (4.6 percent) than females (1.6 percent) reported perpetrating sexual ADA.
The STRiV study found similar results (Taylor and Mumford, 2016). Approximately 12 percent of youths reported perpetrating any physical ARA, and 12 percent reported perpetrating any sexual ARA, while 62 percent reported perpetrating any psychological ARA. The rates varied by gender. More girls reported perpetrating any physical ADA (14.7 percent), compared with boys (9.3 percent); however, more boys reported perpetrating any sexual ADA (13.4 percent), compared with girls (10.6 percent). Boys and girls reported perpetrating any psychological ARA at similar rates (61.6 percent and 62.5 percent, respectively). Although newer studies tend to define dating violence as actions taken not in self-defense, interpretation of what actions constitute self-defense may differ by gender and therefore influence the results (Ybarra et al., 2016).
In addition, a meta-analysis by Wincentak, Connolly, and Card (2017) explored rates (reported by gender) of perpetration of physical and sexual dating violence. The results showed that 25 percent of girls and 13 percent of boys reported perpetrating physical dating violence, whereas 10 percent of boys and 3 percent of girls reported perpetrating sexual dating violence. These results were similar to those found in other studies (Basile et al., 2020; Ybarra et al., 2016; Taylor and Mumford, 2016). Other research also has shown variation in perpetration rates by gender. A longitudinal study (Espelage et al., 2014) looked at data collected from more than 1,110 high school students, which asked questions about bullying and dating violence perpetration. About 64 percent of girls reported perpetrating verbal emotional abuse on a dating partner, compared with 49 percent of boys. However, more boys (11 percent) than girls (7 percent) reported perpetrating sexual dating violence.
Summary. Overall, rates of youths reporting perpetration of physical dating violence ranged from 12 percent to 17 percent, while sexual dating violence perpetration rates ranged from 3 percent to 12 percent (Basile et al., 2020; Ybarra et al., 2016; Taylor and Mumford, 2016). Psychological dating violence was the most common type of abuse, with as many as two youths out of three reporting perpetrating psychological abuse (Taylor and Mumford, 2016). Perpetration rates, like victimization rates, varied by gender. Females reported higher perpetration rates of physical and psychological dating violence, but males reported higher rates of sexual dating violence (Ybarra et al., 2016; Taylor and Mumford, 2016; Wincentak et al., 2017; Espelage et al., 2014).
Cyber Dating Abuse Victimization and Perpetration
Research has begun to explore the ways that changes in technology can affect the occurrence of teen dating violence. One study (Zweig et al., 2013) employed a cross-sectional survey research design to investigate the types of violence and abuse that youths experience through technology, both as victims and perpetrators. The results showed that about one youth in four (26 percent) in a relationship said they had experienced cyber dating abuse victimization in the previous year, compared with 30 percent who had experienced physical dating violence, 47 percent who experienced psychological dating abuse, and 13 percent who experienced sexual coercion. Another cross-sectional survey by Dick and colleagues (2014) asked youths (ages 14 to 19) about their experiences with cyber dating abuse and other forms of ARA. They found a higher percentage of teens who experienced cyber dating violence (41 percent) in the past 3 months, compared with a previous study (Zweig et al., 2013). They also found that a greater number of females than males (45 percent versus 31 percent, respectively) reported cyber dating abuse victimization.
With regard to perpetration, Zweig and colleagues (2013) found that slightly more than 1 in 10 teens (12.0 percent) in a relationship reported perpetrating cyber dating abuse, compared with slightly more than 2 in 10 (20.5 percent) who reported physical dating violence perpetration, 26.0 percent who reported psychological dating abuse perpetration, and fewer than 3.0 percent who reported sexual coercion. Female teens were twice as likely to report cyber abuse victimization, and male teens were more likely to report cyber abuse perpetration.
A study of cyber dating abuse found there were differences between girls’ and boys’ abuse behavior and motivations to perpetrate this type of abuse (Reed et al., 2021). For example, boys were more likely than girls to perpetrate sexual abuse (e.g., pressuring their partners to sext and pressuring their partner to have sex or do other sexual things), while girls were more likely than boys to report that they monitored their partners’ whereabouts and activities.
Studies have shown that youths who experience cyber dating abuse are also more likely to experience physical, psychological, and sexual dating violence. One study found a statistically significant association between cyber dating abuse and experiencing physical or sexual ARA (Dick et al., 2014). Similarly, of those teens in a relationship who reported cyber dating abuse victimization, Zweig and colleagues (2013) found that a high percentage (84 percent) also reported psychological dating abuse victimization, about half (53 percent) also reported physical dating violence victimization, and about one third (32.4 percent) also reported sexual coercion victimization. These rates of victimization were statistically significantly higher, compared with teens who reported no cyber dating abuse victimization.
Intimate-Partner Homicide and Teen Dating Violence
Intimate-partner homicide is the most extreme form of intimate partner and dating violence. Homicide is the third-leading cause of death for adolescents (CDC, 2016). However, almost all intimate partner homicide research is focused on adults. A recent study looked at adolescent homicides perpetrated by intimate partners by examining data from the CDC’s National Violent Death Reporting System, from 2003 to 2016. There were 2,188 homicide victims, ages 11 to 18 years, who had a known relationship with their perpetrators. Of those homicides, 150 (about 7 percent) were classified as intimate-partner homicides. About 90 percent of the adolescent victims were female, while about 90 percent of the perpetrators were male (Adhia et al., 2019; Knopf, 2019). Most of the perpetrators of adolescent intimate-partner homicide were at least 18 years old, and firearms were the most commonly used weapon. Further, more than one fourth of adolescent intimate-partner homicides were motivated by jealousy, the end of a relationship, a fixation on a desired relationship, or a pregnancy-related scenario (Adhia et al., 2019; Knopf, 2019). Consistent with prior research on adult relationships, most adolescent intimate-partner homicides occur after the female intimate partner separates from or threatens separation from the typically highly possessive male partner (Adhia et al., 2019; Elisha at al., 2010; Johnson and Hotton, 2003).
Overlap in Victimization and Perpetration
Research has found that many youths who are victims of teen dating violence also perpetrate (Pusch and Reisig, 2021). For example, the STRiV study (Taylor and Mumford, 2016) found that 58 percent of youths reported both victimization and perpetration of ARA. Only 11 percent reported only ARA victimization, and 4.7 percent reported only ARA perpetration. Put differently, 84 percent of ARA victims also perpetrated ARA. This overlap was observed for physical and psychological ARA, but less so for sexual ARA.
Similarly, another study (Ybarra et al., 2016) found that 35 percent of youths reported both victimization and perpetration of ADA, with 8 percent reporting only perpetration and 12 percent reporting only victimization. The overlap appeared to differ by type of abuse. For example, 28.3 percent of youths reported victimization and perpetration of psychological ADA, 12.6 percent reported victimization and perpetration of physical ADA, and 1.7 percent reported victimization and perpetration of sexual ADA. Further, study findings indicated that prior perpetration may increase the odds that a youth later experiences ADA. The results showed that the relative odds of psychological ADA victimization were 9.5 times higher for youths who reported psychological ADA perpetration, compared with youths who did not perpetrate psychological ADA.
Further, the study by Zweig and colleagues (2013) on the types of violence and abuse that youths experience through technology also examined rates of reciprocal violence and abuse. The study authors found that most cyber dating abuse perpetrators (72 percent) also reported being cyber dating abuse victims. The same was found for physical dating violence perpetrators, with 72 percent reporting that they were also physical dating violence victims, and also for psychological dating abuse perpetrators, with 90 percent reporting they were also psychological dating abuse victims.
Questions specifically asked youth about victimization and perpetration of physical ADA that did not include incidents of self-defense.
Several studies have examined why some teens may be more vulnerable to perpetrating or becoming victims of dating violence in their relationships. Risk factors are identified as both static and dynamic influences in an adolescent’s life that increase the likelihood of victimization or perpetration of teen dating violence (Garthe, Sullivan, and McDaniel, 2017). Though there are no single factors or attributes that can predict involvement in dating violence, risk factors can be identified and targeted for prevention and intervention programs to reduce the likelihood of victimization or perpetration (Vézina and Hébert, 2007; Reppucci et al., 2013).
Risk factors for teen dating violence can be found across four main categories, including individual, peer group, family, and community. In addition, risk factors are not mutually exclusive; several different risk factors may affect a teen at the same time (Cohen et al., 2018).
Many individual-level risk factors have been studied for both perpetration and victimization of teen dating violence. These risk factors include gender, sexual orientation, age, mental health, and displaying other risk behaviors. Some studies also find gender- and race-specific risk factors (Foshee, McNaughton Reyes, and Ennett, 2010).
Gender. Research has shown conflicting results on whether females are more at risk for teen dating violence, compared with males. In terms of victimization, some studies find that girls are at a higher risk of being victimized than boys (Basile et al., 2020), while other studies find that boys are more often victimized (Ybarra et al., 2016). Still other research has shown no gender differences. These rates vary by study and by type of victimization. With regard to dating violence perpetration, there are also mixed findings. Some surveys find that girls are more likely to perpetrate physical and psychological abuse (Taylor and Mumford, 2016; Ybarra et al., 2016), while others find no difference between genders (Rothman et al., 2021).
As stated previously, some studies examining the prevalence of teen dating violence have shown that boys are more likely to report being the victims of physical and psychological abuse, and girls are more likely to report being the victims of sexual victimization and of perpetrating physical teen dating violence (Ybarra et al., 2016). One study examined risk and protective factors related to teen dating violence among 223 at-risk adolescents, ages 13 to 18 (Reppucci et al., 2013) and showed similar findings. Results showed that boys and girls were equally likely to report experiencing physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. However, girls were more likely to report perpetrating both physical and emotional violence, and boys were more likely to report perpetrating sexual violence. The study also found that both male and female teens were equally likely to report being both a perpetrator and victim of dating abuse. Additionally, a recent meta-analysis of 50 studies (that examined the risk markers associated with physical dating violence victimization during adolescence) found that the strength of risk factors for physical dating violence victimization did not differ between girls and boys (Spencer et al., 2020). Taken together, these findings suggest there is not always a clear dichotomy between victim and perpetrator and that both genders can perpetrate dating violence in some form (Reppucci et al., 2013).
One area with arguably more consistent findings with regard to gender is that of injury or death resulting from teen dating violence: most of the research has generally shown that girls are at higher risk than boys of being physically injured from dating violence (Hamby, Finkelhor, and Turner, 2012; Molidor and Tolman, 1998; Tharp et al., 2017). For example, analysis of the NatSCEV found that almost three times as many female physical teen dating violence victims as male victims reported an injury (Hamby, Finkelhor, and Turner, 2012). An early study by Molidor and Tolman (1998) found that girls were more likely to experience severe violence, to say that dating violence “hurt a lot,” and to indicate that dating violence caused them bruises. Another study found that girls were more likely than boys to be victims of “severe dating violence” (Wolitzky–Taylor et al., 2008). However, some research has shown no statistically significant difference between girls and boys in terms of dating violence injuries (Cascardi and Avery–Leaf, 2015).
Few studies distinguish transgender and gender nonbinary youth from cisgender youth in their examination of gender. With regard to transgender youth (i.e., youth who express or identify their gender in opposition to their sex assigned at birth), Dank and colleagues (2014) found that they report higher victimization rates than cisgender youth (i.e., youth whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth) in physical, sexual, and cyber dating violence and report higher perpetration rates in physical and sexual dating violence.
Sexual Orientation. One study by Olsen, Vivolo–Kantor, and Kahn (2020) examined the prevalence of physical and sexual teen dating violence victimization of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth compared with heterosexual youth. They found that LGB youths experience both physical and sexual teen dating violence at higher rates than heterosexual youths. Male LGB adolescents are especially at risk for victimization, more so than female LGB teens. Further, males who are unsure of their sexual identity experience the highest rates of teen dating violence, compared with LGB males and heterosexual males (Olsen, Vivolo–Kantor, and Kahn, 2020). Similarly, the 2019 YRBS found that LGB students and students unsure of their sexual identity had higher prevalence rates of both physical and sexual dating violence victimization than heterosexual students. They also were more likely to experience sexual violence by anyone (Basile et al., 2020). Dank and colleagues (2014) also found that LGB youths were more likely to experience physical, psychological, and cyber dating violence, compared with their heterosexual counterparts.
Among LGB youth, a few studies have found that perpetration and victimization rates vary although findings are not always consistent (Reuter and Whitton, 2018). For example, one study found that youths who are bisexual reported more dating violence perpetration (but not victimization), compared with youths who identify as gay or lesbian (Reuter, Sharp, and Temple, 2015). However, Whitton and colleagues (2016) found that odds of physical victimization were 76 percent higher for female bisexual and lesbian youth, compared with male bisexual and gay youth.
Mental Health. Mental health also has been observed as a risk factor that can predict involvement in a violent romantic relationship. Depressive symptoms in particular are strongly related to the perpetration and victimization of teen dating violence in both boys and girls (Johnson et al., 2014; Goncy et al., 2016). A review of 61 empirical studies investigated risk factors for violence in the romantic relationships of 12- to 24-year-old girls and young women (Vézina and Hébert, 2007). Results showed that overall negative mental health—such as depressive symptoms, suicidal behavior, and low self-esteem—was associated with girls being victims of physical or sexual violence. The research demonstrated a negative relationship between girls’ perceptions of their own power and their victimization of abuse by romantic partners; that is, as a girl’s perception of her power decreases, her risk for victimization increases.
Other mental health conditions also have been studied. For example, a study examining the co-development of romantic relationships and borderline personality disorder in girls found that higher borderline personality disorder symptoms at age 15 predicted verbal and physical aggression in romantic relationships across ages 15 to 19 (Lazarus et al., 2019).
Displaying Other Risk Behaviors. Research has shown that adolescents who participate in generally risky or deviant behaviors are more likely to experience a violent relationship. Alcohol consumption, substance use, stealing, vandalism, fighting, weapon carrying, risky sexual behavior, and other externalizing and delinquent behaviors are associated with teen dating violence (Jouriles et al., 2012; Spencer et al., 2020; Vézina and Hébert, 2007). East and Hokoda (2015) conducted a study that identified risk factors for teen dating violence involving 236 low-income Black and Latino youths. The adolescents were interviewed twice, 5 years apart, to determine early risk factors that could affect dating violence in later adolescence. Youths who reported participating in risky behaviors—such as smoking marijuana, consuming alcohol, attending parties where teens were drinking alcohol, fighting, and having sex—were more likely to report being a victim of teen dating violence later in life. The study authors attributed this finding to the theory that individuals who engage in risky behaviors are at a higher risk of becoming victims because their judgment may be impaired, and they are more often in the presence of potential offenders who also engage in deviant behavior (East and Hokoda, 2015).
Race/Ethnicity. Overall, results from research that has examined differences in victimization and perpetration by race/ethnicity is mixed. Most recent studies of teen dating violence have not found statistically significant differences by race or ethnicity (Basile et al., 2020; Taylor and Mumford, 2016; Ybarra et al., 2016). However, other studies have found differences by race and ethnicity. A study of stalking and harassment among 320 youths ages 12–18 found that Latinx youths were more likely to be both a victim and a perpetrator, facing a “ninefold to twelvefold increased odds of victimization as compared with white participants, controlling for potential confounders” (Rothman et al., 2021:972). Another study of 1,666 students in grades 8–10 in North Carolina found that Black girls were statistically significantly more likely than white girls to initiate dating violence perpetration (Foshee, McNaughton Reyes, and Ennett, 2010). Further, Choi, Weston, and Temple (2017) found that Black youths were more likely to be involved in physical and psychological dating violence, compared with white and Hispanic youths The same study found that Hispanic youths involved in physical and psychological dating violence were more likely to experience anxiety, compared with non-Hispanic youths.
Adolescent Romantic Relationships. Several relationship characteristics are associated with an increased risk of teen dating violence. One is the age difference between adolescents in a relationship. When relationships have a large age gap, the younger partner is more likely to experience physical, sexual, and emotional abuse during the relationship (Volpe et al., 2013; Reppucci et al., 2013). Wider age gaps are associated with “riskier” relationships overall, including risky sexual behaviors, substance abuse, and delinquency (Reppucci et al., 2013; Vézina et al., 2011). Teen dating violence can also stem from attempts at control in a relationship. For example, a 2015 study by Giordano, Longmore, and Manning, using data from the Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study (TARS), found that relationships in which there were high levels of male and female partner control attempts were at higher risk of teen dating violence. The study showed that relationships with heightened emotionality and frequent displays of negative emotion were also at higher risk of violence. Further, relationships in which there is jealously, infidelity, verbal aggression, frequent arguments, and partner mistrust show an increased likelihood of teen dating violence and victimization (Giordano et al., 2015; Copp and Johnson, 2015; Giordano et al., 2010).
Research has shown that adolescents often choose to associate with peers who think and act similarly to them (Garthe et al., 2017). Because social groups are commonly not diverse at the adolescent stage, it is easy for norms among the group to be unopposed and become commonplace; thus, the influence of friends and the behavior of an individual around peers are important risk factors to assess (Leen et al., 2013; Oudekerk, Blachman–Demner, and Mulford, 2014). Risk factors include violence among peers, friends who are victims or perpetrators of dating violence, and risky behavior of peers.
Adolescents may take cues from their peers for handling conflict or general relationship behaviors (Vézina and Hébert, 2007). For example, a meta-analysis (Garthe et al., 2017) incorporated data from more than 4,000 adolescents to synthesize the most salient risk factors in teen dating violence. The findings showed a statistically significant correlation between peer modeling (i.e., when a youth models behavior seen in their peer) and the likelihood of an adolescent’s involvement in dating violence. The study authors proposed that adolescents may model romantic relationships after the relationships in which they have seen their peers participate. If teens observe friends dealing with romantic conflicts in a violent manner, they may then be inclined to imitate this behavior. If they perceive that their peers obtain positive consequences that may stem from violence, such as power or social status, that may reinforce their use of violence as a manner of conflict resolution. The 2015 study by East and Hokoda also found that having friends who engage in risky and delinquent behaviors may increase the chance of teen dating violence victimization. They hypothesized that this occurs because high-risk friends encourage youths to participate in compromising behaviors that could potentially elevate their susceptibility to abuse.
Bullying is another antisocial behavior often seen in adolescence that has connections to dating violence. For example, a 2019 meta-analysis by Zych and colleagues explored the relationship between bullying perpetration and victimization, on the one hand, and dating violence perpetration and victimization, on the other. They found that bullies are more likely to become perpetrators of dating violence, and that bullying victims are at greater risk of becoming victims of dating violence. Another study supported this finding, reporting that bullying perpetration predicts teen dating violence perpetration in both boys and girls (Espelage et al., 2014). However, bullies may also be at a higher risk for becoming victims of dating violence (Zych et al., 2019). Other research shows that bullying is related to other forms of interpersonal aggression among youth (Pepler, 2012). Adolescents may learn that bullying others in a peer relationship can improve the social status of the bully and then apply the same behavior to a romantic relationship.
Exposure to family dynamics and parent behavior can shape children’s decisions and tendencies later in life. A significant body of research suggests that the family environment of adolescents strongly influences their likelihood to perpetrate or become a victim of teen dating violence (Cohen et al., 2018). Exposure to interparental and family violence has been demonstrated as a risk factor for violent teen relationships (Arriaga and Foshee, 2004; Cohen et al., 2018; Jouriles et al., 2011; Oudekerk, Blachman–Demner, and Mulford, 2014).
There is a substantial body of research linking child maltreatment to later negative outcomes, and several studies have found that childhood exposure to maltreatment was a statistically significant predictor of both victimization and perpetration of dating violence (Hamby, Finkelhor, and Turner, 2012; Spencer et al., 2020; Stover, Choi, and Mayes, 2018). A 6-year longitudinal study, which included more than 1,000 high school students living in southeast Texas, examined which factors increased the risk for perpetrating physical and sexual teen dating violence (Cohen et al., 2018). The results showed that adolescents are more likely to perpetrate physical dating violence later in life if they had been the victim of maltreatment in their childhood. This study also found that witnessing domestic violence by their parents in the home predicted dating violence perpetration.
Other research has found that both parental violence and poor parent–child relationship quality are associated with teen dating violence but tend to be more predictive for males than females (Giordano et al., 2015; Copp and Johnson, 2015). However, at least one study found that, for girls, low parent relationship quality was associated with stalking and harassment perpetration and victimization; this relationship was not statistically significant for boys (Rothman et al., 2021).
Social learning theory may explain this correlation. If children experience violence directly or indirectly in the home, they are taught to use violence as a means of conflict resolution (Holt, Buckley, and Whelan, 2008; Styron and Janoff–Bulman, 1997). Further, some studies have shown that harsh parenting styles or parents who use violence or aggression toward their children may predict later aggressive tendencies in children (Cohen et al., 2018; Copp and Johnson, 2015).
The community where adolescents grow up and the attitudes toward violence to which they are exposed can affect the occurrence of teen dating violence victimization and perpetration. For example, one study found that adolescents who grew up in communities where there were more accepting attitudes of abuse were more likely to experience teen dating violence in their own lives (Reppucci et al., 2013). Peer involvement in violence, violent crime rates, and lower neighborhood quality were also linked to an increased chance of experiencing teen dating violence (Reppucci et al., 2013; Copp and Johnson, 2015; Reed et al., 2011; Rothman et al., 2021). In some cases, community factors may affect perpetration or victimization, but not both. In one study of stalking and harassment, the authors found that adolescents living in communities with higher-than-average violence crime rates were more likely to become perpetrators of stalking and harassment, but they were not more likely to be victims (Rothman et al., 2021).
Moreover, boys’ perceptions of violence in their environment have been linked to their own violent behaviors. Reed and colleagues (2011) conducted a cross-sectional study that examined the connection between males who perpetrate teen dating violence and norms among peers and neighborhoods. Results showed that boys who reported involvement in violence perpetration among dating partners were more likely to report a higher perception of violence in their neighborhood, involvement in violent activity in their neighborhood, and beliefs that their peers also perpetrate teen dating violence.
In addition, because youths are less economically mobile than adults, their community and social environment is more likely to remain static in a way that contributes to teen dating violence (Reppucci et al., 2013).
For more information on the relationship between child maltreatment and later violence and delinquency, see the Model Programs Guide literature review on the Intersection of Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems.
Protective factors are influences in an adolescent’s life that help guard or buffer against the experience of negative outcomes. Overall, there is limited research on protective factors for teen dating violence (East and Hokoda, 2015; Vagi et al., 2013). However, knowledge of protective factors is important for prevention and intervention efforts, as they may be enhanced during these programs (Livingston, Eiden, and Leonard, 2016). Like risk factors, protective factors can typically be divided into four categories: individual, peer, family, and community.
Self-regulation refers to the ability to control one’s behavior, and it can serve as a protective factor for teen dating violence (Jouriles et al., 2011). Adolescents who have stronger self-regulation skills tend to exhibit fewer teen dating violence perpetration behaviors (Livingston et al., 2016; Cohen et al., 2018), compared with those who have trouble self-regulating. In addition, increased life satisfaction among adolescents serves as a protective factor against teen dating violence (Reppucci et al., 2013). A 2013 review by Vagi and colleagues of several longitudinal studies examining risk and protective factors found that high measures of empathy, verbal IQ, and cognitive dissonance (i.e., when an adolescent who perpetrated adolescent dating violence realized what they did was wrong) were found to be important protective factors against dating violence perpetration.
A 2013 study by Reppucci and colleagues looked closely into protective factors for teen dating violence; the study authors looked at outcomes that combined measures of perpetration and victimization together (in other words, there was no distinction between perpetration and victimization with regard to protective factors). The results showed that one important protective factor was the ability to cope well with stress. Examples of using practical or emotionally based coping skills when dealing with stress include asking for advice or letting unpleasant feelings escape. These healthy coping skills could serve as a protective factor against teen dating violence, which the study authors attributed to the fact that teens with strong coping skills are more likely to deal with romantic partner conflict with problem-focused strategies rather than with violence.
In addition, a recent meta-analysis of 50 studies that examined the risk markers associated with physical victimization in adolescent romantic relationships found that communication skills, higher levels of self-esteem, and good physical health were all important individual-level protective factors against teen dating violence victimization (Spencer et al., 2020).
Finally, a 2020 qualitative study by Blackburn and colleagues focused on reasons why 75 adolescent girls, ages 15 to 19, with histories of dating violence perpetration intended to stop perpetrating teen dating violence. They found that many of the girls expressed a desire to 1) achieve life goals without being involved in the criminal justice system, 2) avoid feelings of relationship fatigue and exhaustion, 3) avoid embarrassment among peers, 4) help their current relationship stay intact, and 5) learn how to better handle conflicts in future relationships. However, to date, there have been no other studies aimed at investigating the motives for adolescents to stop perpetrating dating abuse (Levesque et al., 2016; Zalmanowitz et al., 2013).
Another important factor in protecting an adolescent from the risk of teen dating violence is a strong social support system (Reppucci et al., 2013; Sabina, Cuevas, and Bell, 2013). Having high social skills and healthy peer relationships is seen as a protective factor in preventing involvement in teen dating violence, especially in girls (Maas et al., 2010). Having these positive social skills and bonds helps reduce unhealthy behaviors later in life, including deviant behaviors and actions that would put an adolescent at risk for teen dating violence. When teens experience dating violence, they are extremely unlikely to seek help afterward. In fact, only 8.6 percent of teens who reported being the victims of a violent relationship also reported seeking help afterward (Oudekerk, Blachman–Demner, and Mulford,2014). Of that group who sought help, however, 77.2 percent reported turning to a friend for aid. Having a strong support system among peers who encourage help-seeking behaviors can serve as a protective buffer against future repeat victimization.
As discussed earlier, childhood exposure to maltreatment, domestic violence, and poor parent-child relationship quality are factors likely to increase the risk of dating violence perpetration and victimization in adolescents (Cohen et al., 2018; Giordano et al., 2015; Copp and Johnson, 2015). However, there are family factors that can be protective against dating violence. For example, maternal warmth and acceptance have been shown to serve as protective factors against later teen dating violence, and this effect is still seen when children are exposed to violence and maltreatment at home (Livingston et al., 2016). Maternal warmth and acceptance contribute to children’s development of self-regulation skills, which also protect against later teen dating violence (Livingston et al., 2016; Edwards et al., 2006). Further, higher levels of parental monitoring are also protective against later experiences of teen dating violence (East and Hokoda, 2015; Reppucci et al., 2013). High levels of parental strictness and conservative sexual attitudes also decreased the likelihood of adolescent victimization (East and Hokoda, 2015).
A meta-analysis of seven studies also found that parental support was a protective factor against teen dating violence victimization (Spencer et al., 2020). Similarly, a study of a national sample of more than 1,500 Latinx teens found that familial support was related to statistically significantly lower odds of all types of victimization, including dating violence (Sabina, Cuevas, and Ho, 2021).
There is little research on protective community factors that buffer against teen dating violence victimization. However, one study (Banyard and Cross, 2008) found that perceived neighborhood support was an important protective factor for female adolescents who had experienced sexual violence/abuse in their relationships. Research also has shown that acculturation and cultural identity may be protective factors for dating violence. A study on dating violence among Latinx adolescents found that higher Latinx orientation was associated with decreased odds of physical and psychological dating violence victimization (Sabina, Cuevas, and Bell, 2013). However, later analysis found that Latinx orientation was related to both lower odds of any victimization and yet higher odds of polyvictimization (Sabina, Cuevas, and Ho, 2021).
Experiencing dating violence during adolescence can have a considerable impact on a young person’s life, and the consequences may be felt for many years afterward (Scott et al., 2011; Foshee et al., 2013; Goncy et al., 2016). Several studies have explored the short- and long-term consequences of teen dating violence victimization. The results from these studies suggest that, compared with youths who do not experience teen dating violence, youths who experience violence in adolescent relationships are at higher risk of a range of negative physical and behavioral health outcomes such as substance use, depression, anxiety, violence/fighting, eating disorders/binge eating, sexual risk behavior, and suicidal ideations and attempts (Ackard and Neumark–Sztainer, 2002; Ackard, Eisenberg, and Neumark–Sztainer, 2007; Banyard and Cross, 2008; Choi, Weston and Temple, 2017; Olshen et al., 2007; Foshee et al., 2013). They also are at higher risk of experiencing dating violence in young adulthood (Exner–Cortens et al., 2013; Gomez, 2011).
Short-Term Victimization Consequences
In terms of short-term consequences, Silverman and colleagues (2001) explored health- and mental health–related outcomes of girls who reported physical and sexual dating violence. The study showed that girls who experienced teen dating violence were at increased risk of substance use, unhealthy weight control behaviors (such as using laxatives to lose weight), risky sexual behaviors, pregnancy, and suicidality (including suicide attempts). However, the direction of the relationship between teen dating violence and health/behavioral health outcomes was not known. For example, although experiencing dating violence could place adolescent girls at greater risk for substance use, substance use could place adolescent girls at greater risk to experience violence from dating partners (Silverman et al., 2001).
Another short-term serious consequence of physical dating violence victimization is physical injury. The NatSCEV asked youth about injuries related to teen dating violence, specifically asking whether the respondent was physically hurt during a teen dating violence incident. Researchers found that the rate of injury for all physical teen dating violence episodes was 20 percent (Hamby, Finkelhor, and Turner, 2012). Another study of 917 adolescents in grades 8–12 found that one third to one half of youths who experienced any physical and/or sexual dating violence also sustained an injury (Tharp et al., 2017). Both studies found that the injury rate was higher for girls than for boys. In addition, a study by Molidor and Tolman (1998) found that 4.3 percent of girls and 1.9 percent of boys needed medical attention because of a dating violence incident, but this difference was not statistically significant.
Long-Term Victimization Consequences
With regard to long-term effects, Exner–Cortens and colleagues (2013) conducted secondary analyses of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), using data collected at Wave 1 (1994–95), Wave 2 (1996), and Wave 3 (2001–02), to explore relationships between teen dating violence victimization and adverse health outcomes. At Wave 2, 20 percent of youths reported psychological victimization only, 2.4 percent reported physical victimization only, and 8.6 percent reported both psychological and physical victimization.
The results at Wave 3 showed that males who reported only psychological victimization reported increased antisocial behaviors and increased odds of suicidal ideation, marijuana use, and adult intimate-partner victimization, compared with males who reported no victimization. For males who reported both psychological and physical victimization, there were increased odds of adult intimate-partner violence. However, there were no associations between both forms of teen dating violence victimization in males and self-esteem, sexual risk, suicide attempt, or other drug use.
The results at Wave 3 also showed that females who reported only psychological victimization were more likely to experience increased odds of episodic drinking and adult intimate-partner victimization, compared with females who reported no victimization. Females who reported both psychological and physical victimization also showed greater depressive symptomology and increased odds of suicidal ideation, smoking, and adult intimate-partner victimization. Similar to males, there were no associations between both forms of teen dating violence victimization in females and self-esteem, sexual risk, suicide attempt, or other drug use (Exner–Cortens et al., 2013).
A study of 1,321 adolescents conducted across a 10-year span found that reports from teens who experienced dating violence, regardless of gender, were associated with declines in self-rated physical health over time (Copp et al., 2016). Another outcome that was consistent across gender and victimization type was the increased odds of experiencing adult intimate-partner violence. This finding was supported in a follow-up study by Exner–Cortens and colleagues (2017) that looked at Add Health data through Wave 4 (2007-2008) and found that individuals reporting adolescent dating violence were more likely to continue to experience physical intimate-partner violence about 12 years later, compared with individuals who reported no adolescent dating violence victimization.
Although previous research (including the studies discussed above) have concentrated primarily on the consequences of teen dating violence victimization, results from a 2015 study by Copp and Johnson suggest there also are consequences of dating violence perpetration that should be explored, especially in light of the overlap in victimization and perpetration. The study authors looked at longitudinal data from the TARS to explore how intimate-partner violence might influence outcomes such as depression, anxiety, and overall physical health and whether this varied by gender. The outcomes found that intimate-partner violence perpetration was associated with increased depressive symptoms (although this increase was usually short-lived and related to the most recent romantic relationship; there did not appear to be an increase in depression over time). The outcomes also showed that intimate-partner violence perpetration was associated with decreases in self-rated health and increases in anxiety. These findings were consistent for both males and females (Copp and Johnson, 2015).
Overall, the various studies examining the consequences of teen dating violence show the complexity of the issue. Results, both in the short and long terms, varied considerably by type of dating abuse experienced and by gender.
Several evaluation studies have been conducted to examine the effectiveness of programs to prevent or reduce teen dating violence and other related outcomes (De La Rue et al., 2014; Foshee et al., 2005), although not all programs have the intended effects on youth (Wolfe et al., 2009; Jaycox et al., 2006; Miller et al., 2015).
The following examples from the Model Programs Guide include a variety of interventions focused on reducing and preventing the occurrence of teen dating violence.
Universal-Level Interventions Focused on Reducing Teen Dating Violence
There are several universal-level interventions targeting school-age youth aimed at increasing students’ knowledge about teen dating violence, changing attitudes or beliefs supportive of teen dating violence, improving conflict-management skills, and encouraging peer support and bystander involvement. One meta-analysis (De La Rue et al., 2014) found that interventions for older students, such as those in middle and high school, generally included activities to foster healthy dating relationships, including communications, stress management, and conflict resolution skills. Some programs also included teaching students about skills to protect themselves from the risk of violent victimization in a relationship. The results of the meta-analysis showed that school-based programs had an overall statistically significant effect on reducing dating violence perpetration, increasing teen dating violence knowledge, and improving teen dating violence attitudes; however, the programs had no statistically significant effect on decreasing dating violence victimization.
School-Based Victimization and Perpetration Prevention Programs
There is overall mixed evidence with regard to the impact of school-based prevention programs on dating violence perpetration and victimization. Safe Dates is a school-based prevention program for middle and high school students that is designed to stop or prevent the initiation of dating violence victimization and perpetration. An evaluation of the program found that at the 4-year follow-up, adolescents in the program reported statistically significant decreases in rates of perpetration of psychological, physical, and sexual abuse, compared with youths in a control group. There were also statistically significant decreases in rates of physical abuse victimization for adolescents in the program, but there was no effect on sexual abuse victimization rates (Foshee et al., 2005).
Shifting Boundaries is a two-part intervention designed to reduce dating violence and sexual harassment among middle school youth by highlighting the consequences of this behavior for perpetrators and increasing faculty surveillance of unsafe areas within the school. The program features both classroom curricula covering the topics of interest (such as healthy relationships and the role of the bystander as intervener) and a schoolwide intervention aimed at altering the school’s protocols for dealing with dating violence. A study of schools in New York City (Taylor et al., 2011) found that students who participated in both the classroom curriculum and schoolwide interventions reported statistically significant reductions in frequency of both sexual harassment and overall violence victimization, and a reduction in overall violence perpetration. However, there was no statistically significant impact on sexual harassment perpetration, on student’s intention to intervene in dating violence situations, nor on skills pertaining to dating violence.
Another example of a school-based intervention is It’s Your Game… Keep it Real, a health education program for seventh and eighth grade students designed to delay sexual behavior and promote healthy dating relationships. The program statistically significantly reduced emotional and physical dating violence victimization for participants, compared with a control group. However, the program did not have a statistically significant effect on physical perpetration of dating violence (Peskin et al., 2014).
Some programs do not affect youth participants as expected. Fourth R Curriculum, evaluated in southwest Ontario, Canada, is an interactive classroom curriculum that aims to reduce teen dating violence by addressing youth violence and bullying, unsafe sexual behavior, and substance abuse (Wolfe et al., 2009). Across three studies (Wolfe et al., 2009; Crooks et al., 2011; and Cissner and Ayoub, 2014), the results showed the program had small, statistically significant effects on decreasing physical dating violence and sexual harassment/assault victimization. However, there were no statistically significant effects on sexual harassment/assault perpetration, peer violence/bullying perpetration, peer violence/bullying victimization, sexual activity, substance use, or prosocial attitudes.
Community-Based Victimization Prevention Programs
The Risk Detective/Executive Function Intervention is a program for adolescent females with a history of violence/abuse victimization and involvement in the child welfare system. The goal of the program is to reduce revictimization in teen dating situations. The program (implemented outside of school, in a community-based location) uses mindfulness-based, cognitive interventions to build skills for responding to risky situations and improving executive function (including reasoning and problem solving). The intervention showed statistically significant reductions in program participants’ sexual and physical revictimization, compared with the control group (DePrince et al., 2013).
The Youth Relationships Project was a community-based prevention program that targeted youth at risk of becoming involved in abusive relationships. The goals of the program were to increase youths’ awareness of the signs of an abusive relationship and teach them how to develop healthy relationships with dating partners. Wolfe and colleagues (2003) found that program participants showed a statistically significant reduction in abuse perpetration and victimization over time, compared with the control group. However, the program did not have statistically significant effects on threatening behavior perpetration or hostility.
The available data illustrate how adolescents are affected by physical, sexual, psychological, and cyber teen dating abuse (Basile et al., 2020; Foshee et al., 2013; Ybarra et al., 2016; Zweig et al., 2013; Taylor and Mumford, 2016). Although rates vary, psychological aggression/abuse is generally found to be the most prevalent type of teen dating violence (Ybarra et al., 2016; Zweig et al., 2013). There is also a large overlap in youths who experience teen dating victimization and those who perpetrate teen dating violence (Basile et al., 2020; Taylor and Mumford, 2016). However, the numbers do not necessarily explain why teen dating violence is so prevalent (Reppucci et al., 2013).
There is ample research available on factors that put youth at risk for both perpetration and victimization of teen dating violence (Cohen et al., 2018; Copp and Johnson, 2015; Garthe et al., 2017; Reppucci et al., 2013; Rothman et al., 2021; Spencer et al., 2020). Risk factors include family-related issues (such as witnessing domestic violence in the home), association with negative/violent peers, growing up in communities that have accepting attitudes of violence, and engaging in other risky/delinquent behaviors, among many others. Although less research has been done to explore potential protective factors for adolescents, a few studies have found these factors may include maternal warmth and acceptance, social support from peers, and healthy coping skills (East and Hokoda, 2015; Vagi et al., 2013).
Youths who experience teen dating violence, in any form, are at higher risk of many short- and long-term negative outcomes such as substance use, depression, anxiety, violence/fighting, eating disorders, and suicidal ideations and attempts (Ackard and Neumark–Sztainer, 2002; Ackard, Eisenberg, and Neumark–Sztainer, 2007; Olshen et al., 2007; Lazarus et al., 2019). In addition, youths who experience dating violence during adolescence are at higher risk of experiencing dating violence in young adulthood (Exner–Cortens et al., 2017). There is also research showing that perpetration of dating violence can have long-term negative outcomes such as increased anxiety and decreased physical health (Copp and Johnson, 2015). However, research has shown that the likelihood of these consequences can differ by gender and victimization type.
Many programs have been developed to target both teen dating violence perpetration and victimization. Several of these programs have been shown to decrease many forms of teen dating violence victimization and perpetration (Foshee et al., 2005; Wolfe et al., 2009; Peskin et al., 2014; Taylor et al., 2011; DePrince et al., 2013; Wolfe et al., 2003), while other programs did not have intended effects on adolescent participants (Wolfe et al., 2009; Jaycox et al., 2006; Miller et al., 2015).
Although a diverse body of research has explored teen dating violence, there are a few additional topics that future research may be able to examine. For example, the prevalence of dating violence by gender is complex and contradictory. More research is needed to better understand the findings where girls are more often the perpetrator of dating violence and boys the victim. Also, recent research has begun to look at the relationship between teen dating violence, sexual orientation, and gender identity (Whitton, et al. 2019; Walls, et al. 2019). As much of the current research has focused on heterosexual relationships, studies looking at the teen dating violence experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and gender nonconforming youth could provide insight for future prevention efforts, as current findings are mixed and inconsistent. Additionally, there is a lack of research on teen dating violence involving ethnically diverse youth. Studies examining the difference impacts of victimization and perpetration of dating violence by race and ethnic groups could also inform prevention programming. Further, many evaluations of prevention programs (including those discussed above) focus on measuring outcomes related to the prevention or reduction of physical or sexual dating violence; few program evaluations have examined the potential impact on psychological dating violence (Sabina et al., 2013), even though this is one of the most prevalent forms experienced by teens (Taylor and Mumford, 2016; Ybarra et al., 2016). Future research can explore the impact these programs make on psychological dating violence, including cyber dating abuse.
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Suggested Reference: Development Services Group, Inc. 2022. “Teen Dating Violence.” Literature review. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. https://ojjdp.ojp.gov/model-programs-guide/literature-reviews/Teen-Dating-Violence
Prepared by Development Services Group, Inc., under Contract Number: 47QRAA20D002V.
Last Update: January 2022