Prevalence and correlates of dating violence in a national sample of adolescents

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2008 Jul;47(7):755-762. doi: 10.1097/CHI.0b013e318172ef5f.


Objective: Dating violence is an important but understudied public health concern in adolescents. This study sought to examine the lifetime prevalence of serious forms of dating violence in 12- to 17- year-olds, risk and protective factors associated with dating violence, and the relation between dating violence and mental health.

Method: A nationally representative sample of adolescents (N = 3,614) completed a telephone-based interview that assessed serious forms of dating violence (i.e., sexual assault, physical assault, and/or drug/alcohol-facilitated rape perpetrated by a girlfriend, boyfriend, or other dating partner).

Results: Prevalence of dating violence was 1.6% (2.7% of girls, 0.6% of boys), equating to approximately 400,000 adolescents in the U.S. population. Risk factors included older age, female sex, experience of other potentially traumatic events, and experience of recent life stressors. Findings also suggested that dating violence is associated with posttraumatic stress disorder and major depressive episode after controlling for demographic variables, other traumatic stressors, and stressful events.

Conclusions: These findings indicate that dating violence is a significant public health problem in adolescent populations that should be addressed through early detection, prevention, and intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aggression / psychology
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Courtship / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Offenses / psychology
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Problems / psychology
  • Social Problems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • United States
  • Violence / psychology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*