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Dating Violence Common by 7th Grade: Survey
Date:3/29/2012

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- Psychological and physical abuse is a common facet of dating for America's adolescents, a new survey reveals.

Researchers who polled more than 1,400 seventh graders found that more than 37 percent of 11- to 14-year olds had been the victim of some form of psychological violence, and almost one in six said they had fallen prey to physical violence while in an ongoing relationship.

"Issues of dating abuse among young teens are much more pervasive than I imagine many families believe," said Peter Long, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California Foundation, which co-sponsored the survey with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the organization Futures Without Violence.

Long said he was startled to see that three-quarters of the students reported they had a boyfriend or girlfriend by their middle-school years.

"That's a big number, and it means that this is the age when many kids are forming their views of what it is to have a relationship," Long said. This indicates that this is the appropriate age to intervene, he added, saying, "High school may even be too late."

The finding that 31 percent of these middle school kids is "experiencing some kind of electronic aggression or pressure such as provocative or insistent texting should be a warning sign for us," Long said, "as is the fact that 15 percent have experienced some kind of physical abuse while dating."

According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention questionnaires, 10 percent of American high school students say they have been physically abused by their boyfriend or girlfriend. But clear insight regarding younger teens has been less well investigated, the researchers said.

To address that issue, between 2010 and 2012 surveys were conducted in eight middle schools in five U.S. cities: Los Angeles; Bridgeport, Conn.; Indianapolis; San Diego, an
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