This study was carried out from 2005 to 2008 by Debi Fry (co-PI) in conjunction with the New York City Alliance against Sexual Assault (the Alliance) and the Columbia University Center for Youth Violence Prevention (CCYVP) at the Mailman School of Public Health with funding from the New York City Council and the Centers for Disease Control. The study included surveying 1,312 youth in four public high schools in New York City on the topics of sexual and relationship violence. Ongoing data analysis and study findings dissemination is exploring patterns of adolescent communication, adolescent typologies of relationship violence, help-giving behaviours and the degree of association with exposure to community violence and the impact of adolescent relationship violence on well-being. Dissemination and knowledge exchange activities ongoing.
Main findings include: -Sexual and dating violence are extremely common among NYC youth. In this study, 16% (or more than one in six students) reported experiencing sexual violence at some point in their lives. Of these youth, 10% reported ever experiencing nonpartner sexual violence (sexual abuse or forced sex). Fourteen percent reported experiencing partner sexual violence (either current or past). -Dating violence is often inclusive of both physical and sexual violence. There is tremendous overlap between the various forms of dating violence. In this study, 71% of youth who experienced threatening behaviors from a dating partner also experienced physical violence from that dating partner. -Physical dating violence is not one-sided nor is it all males against females. Thirty-two percent of students, both males and females, reported perpetrating one or more episodes of physical violence against their partners in the past year. -Youth tell their friends first, though about 40% never told anyone. More than half (59%) of youth who reported they had experienced sexual or dating violence had told someone about their experiences. Overall, 88% of youth who experienced violence told their friends, whereas 52% told their parents or another adult. Nearly a quarter (or 24%) sought help for sexual and dating violence from a health professional, teacher or guidance counselor. -Dating violence does not occur in a vacuum: Perpetrating other forms of youth violence is associated with perpetrating physical and sexual dating violence. For boys, carrying a weapon within the last 30 days and/or gang membership in the past year were both risk factors for perpetrating sexual violence against an intimate partner. This study recommends following a two-pronged strategy: preventing sexual and dating violence among NYC youth and providing appropriate response to those who have experienced this violence. Pursuit of these strategies simultaneously is essential to address the scope of sexual and dating violence occurring among the young.