Disparities in Adolescent Dating Violence and Associated Internalizing and Externalizing Mental Health Symptoms by Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and Sexual Orientation

J Interpers Violence. 2021 Mar 6:886260521997944. doi: 10.1177/0886260521997944. Online ahead of print.


The current study examined the prevalence and mental health associated with physical and sexual dating violence among adolescents using an intersectional analysis. Data were obtained from 88,219 adolescents in the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey. Gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and experiences with teen dating violence were measured for each youth. Tested two- and three-way interactions demonstrate varied outcomes by social identification and emphasize the need for an intersectional approach in dating violence research. Adolescent dating violence was most prevalent among girls (10% physical, 13% sexual); adolescents were sracially identified as Native North American (13% physical, 10% sexual), Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (12% physical, 14% sexual), or multiracial (11% physical, 12% sexual), and lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning their sexual orientation (LGBQ) adolescents (19% physical, 20% sexual). The intersectional groups with the highest rates of physical and sexual dating violence included Latinx GBQ boys (26% physical, 26% sexual) and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander GBQ boys (29% physical, 32% sexual). Among girls, highest rates were observed among Hawaiian/Pacific Islander LBQ (24% physical, 23% sexual). Externalizing symptoms associated with physical dating violence were most robust for risky sexual behavior (OR = 4.0), followed by physical fighting (OR = 3.0), and weapon carrying (OR = 2.5); they were also associated with sexual dating violence (ORs = 1.9-2.2). Internalizing symptoms were comparably associated with both types of dating violence (ORs = 2.6-2.9 physical and ORs = 2.4-2.8 sexual). Findings suggest first that an intersectional approach is especially informative in teen dating violence prevention and intervention and second that teen dating violence interventions and prevention programming should use a trauma-informed, gender-responsive, culturally sensitive, and LGBQ inclusive approach.

PMID:33678044 | DOI:10.1177/0886260521997944