Adolescent and Teen Girls At Risk for Lethal Dating Violence

A new study out of the University of Washington warns that teens killed by partners, in relationships, may be on the rise.  While there has been much study on domestic violence against adult women, this study cautions that the same type of violence that affects adult women may also affect the lives of adolescent and teen girls. 

More specifically, the study suggests that of the 2,000+ adolescents killed between 2003 and 2016, almost 7 percent were killed by a current or former intimate partner.  That is about 150 teens.  Also, the study revealed (somewhat unsurprisingly) that 90 percent of the victims were female; they had an average age of 17.  Also, in nearly 80 percent of all the cases, the perpetrators were at least 18 years of age.

In the report, the study authors say, “Intimate partner homicide victims were largely female and killed by a firearm, and homicides often involved broken relationships or jealousy. Intimate partner homicide of adolescents is an important problem that warrants further study and proactive intervention.”

Study author Avanti Adhia is a University of Washington School of Medicine epidemiologist. She warns, “People think that intimate partner violence among adolescents is less serious than among adults [but] it’s important to highlight that this can really lead to death. It’s not something to brush off as [an argument between kids.”

Many professionals who consistently investigate data like this were shockingly unaware of the specifics revealed in this study. In some cases, data among children this young has not been available until now.  But the data also reveals remarkable details about the circumstances of these deaths. For example, the study indicates that the availability of a gun is directly related to the lethality of these incidents.  

In addition, the study also explored the events that precipitated the deaths.  The researchers found that the most common event leading to these deaths were the victim (most often female) attempting to breakup with the perpetrator (most often male) or refusing to initiate a relationship with them.  This accounted for 27 percent of the cases. 

Apparently, jealousy is the major contributing factor. The study found that jealousy was the common thread across the majority of incidents and that it affects girls and boys equally.The results of this study have been published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics