Objectives. To assess the annual prevalence of physical violence from dating partners among a representative sample of sexually experienced adolescent girls attending US public and private high schools, as well as sexual risk behaviors and pregnancy among this population.
Design, Setting, Participants, and Measures. Female students (9th through 12th grade) (N = 6864) participating in the 2001 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey completed measures of physical dating violence during the previous year, as well as assessments of health risk behaviors. Annual rates of physical dating violence were estimated for sexually experienced (n = 3085) and inexperienced girls. Multiple logistic regression models were constructed to assess whether physical dating violence in the previous year was associated with sexual health risks and pregnancy, after controlling for effects of potentially confounding demographic features and risk behaviors.
Results. Slightly less than 1 of 5 sexually experienced US adolescent girls (17.7%) reported being intentionally physically hurt by a date in the previous year, and ∼1 of 25 girls (3.7%) who reported no sexual experience reported such violence. Dating violence among sexually experienced adolescent girls was related to increased risks for both sexual risk behaviors (eg, recent multiple sexual partners: odds ratio: 2.0; 95% confidence interval: 1.3–3.1) and pregnancy (odds ratio: 1.8; 95% confidence interval: 1.3–2.4).
Conclusions. Dating violence is prevalent among US adolescent girls, especially those reporting having had sexual intercourse. Adolescent girls intentionally hurt by a date in the previous year are more likely to experience sexual health risks, including those increasing vulnerability to human immunodeficiency virus infection and other sexually transmitted infections, and to have been pregnant. Dating violence should be integrated into sexual health and pregnancy prevention programs, and greater efforts to identify girls experiencing dating violence are needed among those providing care related to adolescent sexual and reproductive health.