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Violence affects 60% of teen relationships – and 150 were killed by partners in 13 years

Between 2003 and 2016, 150 adolescents and teenagers were killed by someone they were dating in the US, a disturbing study reveals.  

Violence is all too common in relationships between American teens, affecting some 60 percent of youth relationships. 

The vast majority of the young people who are victimized by their romantic partners are young women, and in many states they don’t have access to the same protections that adult victims do.  

As violence continues to claim the lives of mostly low-income youth in the US, public health experts at the University of Washington are urging health care providers to check in with their young patients to better screen for violent relationships. 

Between 2003 and 2016, 150 adolescents and teenagers were killed by someone they were dating or who wanted to date them, and 60 percent who had dated at all had experience violence from a romantic partner, a new JAMA study found (file image) 

Americans don’t commit more crimes than people living in other countries, according to previous research, but their crimes are more likely to prove deadly. 

Of all the potential explanations for American violence, one variable distinguishes crime in the US: guns. 

Nearly 30 people per every one million Americans died by firearm in 2012, according to the Human Development Index. 

And these gun deaths are not limited to adults. 

Over 60 percent of the 150 minors killed by intimate partners between 2003 and 2016 were shot to death.  

In fact, the new study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, revealed that violence is prevalent among youth and shares much in common with violence in adult relationships. 

The vast majority of under-18s killed by romantic partners were women (90 percent) and 58 percent were minorities. 

Rejection was the most common underlying reason for altercations, according to the new study. 

Over a quarter (27 percent) of the victims were killed by someone they had ended a relationship with or by someone whose advances they turned away. 

Another quarter were killed as the result of an argument or fight. 

Though it doesn’t always turn deadly, violence is inordinately common in teen and adolescent relationships. 

The National Survey on Teen Relationships found that over 60 percent of teenagers that had ever ‘dated’ had experience violence in the context of those relationships. 

About 10 percent of boys and 20 percent of girls 18 and under say that they have experienced sexual or other physical violence acted out by someone they were dating. 

Fore people between 11 and 18, partner violence accounted for seven percent of all homicides in the US between 2003 and 2016. 

And some of the best-proven harm reduction policies and strategies simply aren’t on the table for youth on the US. 

Adults can get restraining orders against people who have threatened or been violent toward them – including intimate partners – and these often come with requirements that the the aggressor turn over any firearms they own. 

These measures are proven to reduce rates of violence and murder between partners.  

But some states, children can’t qualify for restraining orders, or have to get their parents involved, which can be a deterrent. 

And, of course, people under 18 themselves can’t own guns, so legal recourse may be further limited. 

Without going to the police, the best opportunity for signs of an abusive or dangerous relationship to be seen might be at a doctor’s office. 

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has recommended that all women of reproductive age – including minors – be screened for signs of sexual and other violence. 

In an editorial accompanying the new study, three public health experts urge that this part of an exam not be taken lightly, and be expanded to boys, transgender and nonbinary adolescents too. 

‘Adolescents view their medical professionals as trustworthy sources of information about dating relationships, but few report that they are asked about dating relationships and dating violence during medical visits,’ the editorial authors wrote. 

‘When [partner violence] is disclosed or suspected, health care professionals should be prepared to offer emotional support, assess for urgent safety risks, including access to guns, and refer youth to community-based advocates and resources.’        


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