Objectives To determine the prevalence and characteristics of dating violence experienced by adolescents seeking care in a pediatric emergency department and how often adolescents reporting victimization follow up with suggested resources.
Design Cross-sectional survey.
Setting An urban pediatric emergency department.
Participants Of 327 participants, 235 (71.9%) were female and 92 (28.1%) were male, with a mean (SE) age of 18.7 (0.10) years.
Interventions Adolescents aged 13 to 21 years completed a survey including demographic characteristics and a validated measure of dating violence. Those reporting victimization received information about local resources and were contacted 1 month later by telephone to determine their use of local resources.
Main Outcome Measures Dating violence exposure and subsequent use of resources.
Results Among the adolescents, 54.8% reported physical and/or sexual victimization (54.0% of girls vs 56.7% of boys; odds ratio = 0.9; 95% CI, 0.6-1.5), and 59.4% reported perpetration of physical and/or sexual violence (62.1% of girls vs 52.3% of boys; odds ratio = 1.4; 95% CI, 0.9-2.4). Girls were more likely than boys to perpetrate physical violence (52.2% vs 36.1%, respectively; odds ratio = 1.9; 95% CI, 1.2-3.2) but were also more than 5 times as likely to report fear of sustaining serious injury from a partner (16.2% vs 3.1%, respectively; odds ratio = 6.0; 95% CI, 1.4- 26.2). Young age, more intimate partners, and a history of a recent physical fight were independently associated with both dating violence victimization and perpetration. Only 4 of the 127 participants with follow-up interviews (3.1%) used any resources provided.
Conclusion Dating violence perpetration and victimization rates for both boys and girls who had at least 1 dating relationship are high in this pediatric emergency department population.