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Children's Health

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1 in 5 Sexually Active Girls Suffers Violence

Dating Violence Increases Other Sexual Health Risks

WebMD Health News

Aug. 2, 2004 -- Sexually active girls are nearly five times more likely to be a victim of teen dating violence than non-sexually active girls, according to a new study.

Researchers found nearly one in five sexually active adolescent girls was intentionally hurt by a date in the previous year compared with less than one in 25 girls without any sexual experience.

Overall, the study showed teenage girls report high rates of dating violence, with an average of one in 10 high school girls reporting being physically harmed by a date in the last year.

The study also suggests that girls who are sexually active and who are a victim of dating violence are more likely to be experience other sexual health risks, such as sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.

Researchers say the results show that teen dating violence prevention efforts should be expanded and integrated into sexual health and pregnancy prevention programs.

Teen Dating Violence Linked to Other Risks

The study, published in the August issue of the journal Pediatrics, was based on the responses of 6,864 female high school students who participated in the 2001 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

About half of the teenage girls surveyed were sexually active, and researchers compared rates of reported dating violence among sexually experienced and inexperienced girls.

They found nearly 18% of sexually active girls reported being physically hurt by a date in the previous year compared with less than 4% of inexperienced girls.

The study also showed that dating violence among sexually active girls increased other sexual health risks.

"Adolescent girls who experience dating violence are at significantly increased risk for multiple high-risk behaviors related to sex, including having greater numbers of sexual partners, not consistently using condoms, and using substances before sexual intercourse," write researcher Jay Silverman, PhD, of the Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues.

In addition, researchers found that sexually active girls who reported being hurt by a date in the previous year were almost twice as likely than other girls to report having been pregnant.

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