Dating Violence Up in NYC Schools

Dating violence and forced sex increased among students in New York City public schools from 2003 to 2005 even as overall school violence, including fights and students carrying weapons, declined. Since 1999, dating violence has increased more than 40 percent; in the new study, one in ten New York City teens reports physical violence from a partner.

Teen Safety in New York City, from the city’s Health Department, finds that girls are no more likely than boys to have been physically hurt by a partner, but girls are twice as likely to have ever been forced to have sex (ten percent of girls, five percent of boys say they have). It also finds an association between violence and other health risks, for both victims and aggressors.

The proportion of students reporting physical dating violence increased from 6.5 percent in 1999 to 10 percent in 2005, matching the national average for that year. In 2005, 7.5 percent of New York City youth reported that they had been raped at some point, also matching a national average, but representing an increase for New York City from 5.6 percent in 2001.

The Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence has teamed with the Department of Youth and Community Development to educate young people about dating violence. The two agencies developed the New York City Healthy Training Academy, which hosts workshops to teach youth about the dynamics of abusive relationships and the characteristics of healthy ones.

“We are working to empower young people with the tools and knowledge to recognize what healthy, loving relationships look like,” said Yolanda B. Jimenez, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence. “Through our peer-education anti-violence programming and outreach, we are taking the first step in preventing domestic violence and keeping teens safe.”

The report recommends that schools and communities “identify staff who can reach out to youth who have been identified for disciplinary action due to violence. Those who report being victimized, abusing substances, or contemplating suicide should be referred to mental health services.”

Teen Safety in New York City is based on data from the New York City Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a self-administered, anonymous questionnaire conducted every other year since 1997 by the Health Department and the New York City Department of Education. To view the full report, visit www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/survey/survey-2007teensafety.pdf.

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