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Relationship Violence Common Among College Students

Almost half had experienced it before or during college, survey shows

MONDAY, July 7 (HealthDay News) -- Violence between partners, friends and acquaintances is common before and during college, a new study shows.

Researchers surveyed 910 undergraduates aged 17 to 22 (57.1 percent female) at three urban college campuses to detect this trend.

Among the findings:

  • 407 (44.7 percent) of respondents said they experienced violence either before or during college, including 383 (42.1 percent) who said they were victims and 156 (17.1 percent) who said they were perpetrators.
  • 53 percent of women and 27.2 percent of men reported being victims.
  • Rates of being a perpetrator or victim were higher before college than during college.
  • More than half (130 of 227 reports) of violent incidents during college involved a partner, rather than a friend or acquaintance.
  • Emotional violence was most common before college (21.1 percent), while sexual and emotional violence were equally common during college (12 percent and 11.8 percent).
  • Men were more likely to commit sexual violence, while women were more likely to commit physical violence.

"In conclusion, all forms of relationship violence are prevalent among male and female college students; almost half of students had experienced relationship violence at some point in their lives, more than one-third had experienced violence before college, and one-quarter had experienced violence during college," wrote Christine M. Forke, of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Emotional violence was the most common form of violence at all ages.

"While emotional abuse frequently is not a focus of violence prevention, it can cause poor outcomes and may predispose victims to other forms of violence. Therefore, educational efforts focusing on healthy relationships should begin during childhood," the researchers wrote.

The study is published in the July issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers advice about health and safety in college.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, July 7, 2008

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