Over the past two decades, a substantial amount of research has been devoted to violence in partner relationships within various groups.While the violence that occurs in the relationships of college-aged men and women, cohabiters, or married couples may not be of the same nature as that which occurs in adolescent dating, it has been suggested that abuse in high school dating relationships can establish a pattern of violence that may carry over into later relationships, affect marriage, and have lifelong consequences (Roscoe & Callahan, 1985; Roscoe & Kelsey, 1986; Halpern, Oslak, Young, Martin, & Kupper, 2001), including various eating disorders (Thompson, Wonderlich, Crosby, & Mitchell, 2001).The reported incidence of teen dating violence varies significantly across studies, yet even with variation the known prevalence rates establish it as a serious problem in the United States.The different rates of prevalence may be a result of differences in the methodology, the definitions, and/or in the targeted population used in the studies.One NIJ-funded study examined the prevalence of dating violence among 5,647 teens (51.8 percent female, 74.6 percent Caucasian) from 10 middle schools and high schools (representing grades 7-12) throughout New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. "Partner Violence Among Adolescents in Opposite-Sex Romantic Relationships: Findings from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health." 91 (October 2001): 1679-1685. Findings indicated that within the past year: The study also specifically examined dating violence rates among teens who had dated within the past year (66 percent of total teens; n = 3,745). Surveillance Summaries: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2013 (pdf, 172 pages).
In spite of these concerns, previous research has indicated that there is evidence that prevalence rates for violence in partner relationships may vary from one sample population to the next and, specifically, from one region of the country to the next (Laner & Thompson, 1982; Sugarman & Hotaling, 1989). (2001) study on adolescent partner violence, no published study to date has inclnded a sample base wide enough to allow comparisons on dating violence between one sub-population and another.Additionally, within prevalence studies, the widespread use of Straus' (1979) Conflict Tactics (CT) scales had led many to conclude that dating violence, particularly in adoiescent relationships, is perpetrated by both men and women alike (Avery-Leaf, Cascardi, O'Leary, & Cano, 1997; Henton, Cate, Koval, Lloyd, & Christopher, 1983; Foshee, Linder, & Bauman, et al., 1996; Halpern et al., 2001).Reported violence in adult relationships is more frequently reported as perpetrated by males toward their female partners, while adolescent patterns of violence and abuse appear to be less differentiated by gender (Martin, 1990). There is also evidence that females are more likely than males to describe their violent behavior as self-defense in nature, while males are more likely to describe their aggressive behavior as motivated by needs to intimidate, control, or coerce (Jasinski & Williams, 1998; Follingstad, Rutledge, Mc Neill-Harkins, & Polek, 1992).Some definitions of teen dating violence include incidences of all three types of relationship violence (physical, sexual, and emotional or psychological violence), while others focus on just one or two of those types of violence.Further, youth may be afraid to disclose violence to friends and family.As noted by Jackson (1999), there are a number of methodological explanations for these discrepancies.