July 8, 2008 -- More than four in 10 college students have been the victim
of relationship violence by a partner, friend, or acquaintance, according to a
"All forms of relationship violence are prevalent among male and female
college students; almost half of the students had experienced relationship
violence at some point in their lives, more than one-third had experienced
violence before college and one-quarter had experienced violence during
college," write researcher Christine M. Forke, MSN, CRNP, of the Children's
Hospital of Philadelphia and colleagues in the July issue of Archives of
Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Researchers say the results suggest that relationship violence is prevalent
on college campuses.
The researchers cite past studies that suggest factors affecting this risk
may include less monitoring by parents, isolation in an unknown environment,
and a desire for peer acceptance that can change behaviors.
Relationship Violence on Campus
In the study, researchers anonymously surveyed 910 undergraduates in 67
randomly selected classes at three urban college campuses.
The results showed 42% had been the victim of relationship violence
by a partner, friend, or acquaintance either before or during college, and
17% had been the perpetrator.
Other findings include:
Women were more likely to be the victim of all forms of relationship
violence (53% of women vs. 27% of men).
Rates of relationship violence were higher before college than during
More than half of relationship violence reported during college was related
to a partner rather than a friend or acquaintance.
Emotional violence was the most common type of relationship violence
reported before college (21%), while sexual and emotional violence were equally
common during college (12%).
Men were more likely to perpetrate sexual violence while women were more
likely to perpetrate physical violence.
Researchers say emotional abuse isn't often a focus of violence prevention
programs, but it may predispose victims to other types of violence.
"Therefore, educational efforts focusing on healthy relationships should begin during
childhood," write the researchers.