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Dating Violence and the Sexual Health of Black Adolescent Females

May 7, 2001

This study examined the association between having a history of dating violence and the sexual health of adolescent females. Although society is becoming more aware of domestic violence involving adults, the issue of dating violence among adolescents has not received sufficient study. According to the investigators, the majority of adolescents have begun dating by 16 years old, and many have experienced an episode of dating violence by age 15 years. The prevalence of dating violence among adolescents ranges from 9 percent to 39 percent, "with previous research indicating a higher prevalence of dating violence among black female adolescents compared with female adolescents of other ethnic groups."

Much of the research on dating violence has been conducted with school-based, predominantly white populations. The paucity of data on dating violence among black female adolescents and its relationship to pregnancy and STD/HIV risk-taking has, according to the authors, "created a gap in our knowledge of adolescent females' sexual health."

Data on sexual violence were collected at the Family Medicine Clinic involving black adolescent females (n=522) through a self-administered survey that assessed dating violence, sexuality-related attitudes, beliefs and norms, and through a structured interview that evaluated sexual risk behaviors.

Dating violence was reported by 18.4 percent of adolescents (n=90). Those adolescents with a history of dating violence were, in the last six months, 2.8 times more likely to have more than one male partner and half as likely to use condoms consistently. According to the study, those adolescents who have experienced dating violence were also "more likely to fear the perceived consequences of negotiating condom use (odds ratio [OR] = 2.8); fear talking with their partner about pregnancy prevention (OR = 2.6); have a higher perceived risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease (OR = 2.1); perceive less control over their sexuality (OR = 2.4); have peer norms non-supportive of using condoms (OR = 3.1); and have norms non-supportive of having a healthy relationship (OR = 2.1)."

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According to the authors "adolescents who have experienced dating violence are more likely to exhibit a spectrum of unhealthy sexual behaviors, attitudes, beliefs and norms." The prevalence of dating violence and its association with risk behaviors that could lead to unintended pregnancy, STDs and HIV infection should prompt public health practitioners to provide a comprehensive risk assessment that includes screening for dating violence. Identification of such a history offers an opportunity to provide support and referral services.


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Adapted from:
Pediatrics; 05.01.01; Vol 107; No 5: P e72. Gina M Wingood, ScD, MPH; Ralph J DiClemente, PhD; Donna Hubbard McCree, PhD, MPH; Kathy Harrington, MPH, MEd; Susan L Davies, PhD, MEd



  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 

 

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