Science & Tech

Dating violence linked with teen pregnancy, suicide attempts

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First large-scale study examines effects on adolescent girls

About one in five girls experience physical or sexual dating violence, according to a new study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, the Boston University School of Public Health and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. These girls are significantly more likely to engage in other behaviors that pose serious health risks. Girls who have experienced such violence are more likely to become pregnant as teen-agers, to attempt suicide, to use drugs including alcohol and cocaine, and to try to control their weight in unhealthy ways, including abuse of diet pills and laxatives. “The finding of such a high prevalence of dating violence against adolescent girls throws a spotlight on the need for all of us to do more to prevent and intervene in this violence to reduce both the immediate risks of injury to young women and the very serious risks to their health that may follow,” said Jay Silverman, lead author of the study and an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. The research was supported by grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the W.T. Grant Foundation.