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Similar to the research on spousal violence, there appears to be no standard definition of dating violence.
Perhaps due to their need for autonomy and greater reliance on peers, teens involved in dating violence seldom report the violence to a parent or adult; if it is reported, most tell a friend and the incident never reaches an adult who could help (Cohall, 1999).
The focus of the present article is two fold: 1) to provide a critical review of the dating violence literature with respect to potential risk factors for both perpetrators and victims; and 2) to examine the empirical research regarding the effectiveness of prevention and intervention programs targeting teen dating violence.
Before reviewing the existing literature, two areas are discussed briefly: prevalence rates and the issue of mutual aggression.
A considerable body of research has been conducted to assess prevalence rates of dating violence.
A recent national survey found that approximately 12% of high school students reported experiencing physical violence in a dating relationship ( Center for Disease Control, 2000).
However, rates of dating violence in high school samples have been found to be as low as 9% (Roscoe & Callahan, 1985) and as high as 57% ( Cascardi, Avery-Leaf, O'Leary, 1994 ).The wide range in prevalence rates may be due to several factors.Maura O'Keefe With contributions from Leah Aldridge In the past several decades dating violence has emerged as a significant social and public health problem.Much of the dating violence research, however, has focused on adult couples or college samples and only recently has attention been paid to dating violence among high school students (e.g., Foshee, 1996; James, West, Deters, & Armijo, 2000; Kreiter et al., 1999).Teen dating violence is a significant problem not only because of its alarming prevalence and physical and mental health consequences (Callahan, Tolman, & Saunders, 2003; Coker, Smith, Mc Keown, & King, 2000), but also because it occurs at a life stage when romantic relationships are beginning and interactional patterns are learned that may carry over into adulthood (Werkerle & Wolfe, 1999).Teen dating violence ranges from emotional and verbal abuse to rape and murder and appears to parallel the continuum of adult domestic violence (Sousa, 1999).