Teens in Abusive Relationships Likelier to Engage in “Anti-Social” Behaviors as Adults, Says New Report

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A new study published in Pediatrics indicates that approximately 30 percent of the nation’s teens have been involved in an aggressive relationship, with about one-fifth of young people reporting that they have experienced psychological violence while dating. 

The study, involving almost 6,000 young people, ages 12 to 18 in heterosexual relationships, found that an additional 5 percent of respondents experienced physical violence. A combined 18 percent of male and female respondents said they had been in dating relationships that were both physically and psychologically violent.

In analyzing data from individual subjects five years after the initial surveys, researchers found that females that had been victimized while dating were more likely to engage in heavy drinking, smoke cigarettes, display symptoms of depression and have thoughts of suicide than subjects who did not experiences aggressive relationships as teens. Male subjects who had reported being in aggressive relationships as teens were also linked to increased “anti-social behaviors,” including delinquency and marijuana use, researchers stated.

Overall, individuals involved in aggressive teen relationships were found to be two to three times likelier to be engaged in violent relationships as adults.

“The results from the present analyses suggest that dating violence experienced during adolescence is related to adverse health outcomes in young adulthood,“ researchers concluded. “Findings from this study emphasize the importance of screening and offering secondary prevention programs to both male and female victims.”