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Domestic violence is common in adults and women are the most common victims. In fact, nearly half of the women killed by murder in the United States are killed by their former or current intimate partners.
Now, a new study finds that this kind of violence also endangers the lives of young girls.
The study found that of the more than 2,000 teenagers murdered between 2003 and 2016, almost seven percent (150 teenagers) were killed by their current or former intimate partners.
90% of the victims were women and their average age was 17 years. In almost 80 percent of cases, the offender was 18 years or older.
The results were published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.
"People believe that violence between partners among adolescents is less serious than among adults," says study author Avanti Adhia, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington. "It's important to emphasize that this really can lead to death, it's not something to say," This is just a quarrel between children. ""
Young people suffering from or suspected of emotional abuse may call LOVEIS at 1-866-331-9474 (National Teen Dating Abuse) at 22522 and contact a specialist, that can help. Teenagers can also ask for help with someone at loveisrespect.org.
The study may be the first to offer a national estimate of teenage deaths from dating violence, says Anita Raj, who heads the Center for Gender Equity and Health at the University of California at San Diego and is not involved in the new study was.
"I've never seen this kind of work with this very young person [age] Group, "she says. I did not know that this scale was a youth problem. "
The new study also provides details on the circumstances of death.
In any case, Adhia and her colleagues have looked at the information in the prosecution files and in the medical examination or in the investigation office. And they found that firearms, especially handguns, were the leading cause of injury at 61 percent.
"When it comes to lethality, it has a lot to do with the availability of rifles," says Deborah Capaldi, a developmental psychologist and senior scientist at the Oregon Science Learning Center who studied teenage dating violence, but not on the new study was involved. "If they find themselves in a situation where they get mad, crazy and out of control, they can grab a weapon, which ends up when their partner is killed."
The new study also looked at the triggering events for these deaths. The most common reasons were that the victim was separated from the offender or refused to build a relationship with him. That was 27 percent of the cases. The jealousy of the perpetrator belonged to this group.
Earlier research shows that jealousy is a common problem in relationships between teenagers, says Capaldi.
In a study, she and her colleagues brought 17- to 18-year-olds to discuss relationship conflicts they were facing. The most common problem raised by the adolescents was their partners' jealousy, she says.
"It was the same with girls and boys," she says. "The most dangerous situation is when you are poor [emotional] Control, hostility, and then they will get into a risk situation as they become jealous. "
She is a particularly unstable and dangerous time in abusive relationships. "We've found that separations are dangerous periods to increase the likelihood of injury," says Capaldi. "When partners are together, they do not try to commit violent acts of violence, but they do not try to cause serious harm, and when they break up, they strike out and try to hurt the other person."
About 25 percent of the cases were triggered by violent clashes between the victim and the perpetrator, making it the second leading trigger event.
The ruthless use of firearms had also led to deaths, others because the victim was pregnant and the offender did not want the baby or wanted to be feared for legal rape.
Violence against women is common
The results are "shocking and frightening," but "unfortunately it's not surprising," says Megan Bair-Merritt, a pediatrician at the Boston Medical Center and the Boston University School of Medicine, who authored an accompanying editorial to the study.
Dating violence among adolescents is "incredibly common," she says.
According to the National Survey of Teenage Relations and Intimate Violence, more than 60 percent of adolescents said they had experienced some sort of abuse – physical, sexual and / or emotional – from someone they were with or had previously had in a relationship.
"We have to recognize the prevalence of teenage violence," says Bair-Merritt. "It can have incredibly significant effects on health and well-being, including mortality."
Young survivors of violence in partnerships with intimate partners are at a higher risk of being abusive in the future, Raj says.
"That's how they learn to build relationships," she says. "Here is the probability [kind of violence] occur again. "
Prevention and help
The new findings raise two important questions about prevention and intervention, says Bair-Merritt.
"How do we talk to teenagers and children about dating violence early?" she says and "How do we set up good interventions?"
She says adults should openly talk to children about relationships even before they get together. "I think it's important to talk about what healthy relationships are," she says.
Bair-Merritt adds that it is important for children to have many "safe adults" in their lives. These are adults – parents, teachers, trainers, pastors, grandparents – with whom the young people feel comfortable and can be trusted, who can achieve them in stressful experiences.
"For young children … safe relationships with adults ensure that they relieve stress," she says. "There is a physical stress buffer for adolescents who have these connections." More [connections]the better. "
And paediatricians play an important role in preventing and intervening violence against teens, she writes in the editorial.
"The American Academy of Pediatrics says we should talk to young people about relationships and support them," says Bair-Merritt. "We have a pretty good reach, and most adolescents see their pediatrician at least once a year."
Most children have known their paediatricians for years and are more likely to rely on information about dating relationships, she says.
Healthcare professionals should be aware of the signs that their adolescent patients are in abusive relationships, she writes. Partner violence has been shown to increase the risk of psychological problems such as depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. Paediatricians can look for signs of these mental health problems, social isolation, and performance changes at school.
Restricting access to guns is also part of the solution, says Capaldi. Parents should talk to their children about gun safety, she says, and make sure the guns are kept in safe places in their own homes. You should also ask your children if the person has a weapon or has access to it. "Ensuring that the weapons are stored safely is a big problem," she says.
Schools could also be a big part of the solution, says Capaldi.
Nurses and counselors may detect signs of dating abuse and help support the victims, she says. Schools that do not have the necessary resources should connect victims with community resources, such as counseling centers or relevant nonprofit organizations.
"Schools and nurses need to get to know resources in the area," she says.
There are several evidence-based programs that teach adolescent relationship skills and how violence against intimate partners can be avoided, Adhia said. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a list of such programs.
And there are hotlines specifically for adolescents facing violence in conjunction with a partner, such as the National Teen Dating Abuse hotline, adds Bair-Merritt. Adolescents can call 22522331 or SMS to LOVEIS at 22522 and contact a trained professional to determine if they are in immediate danger of being afraid of accessing them or their partner To have firearms and help people out of unsafe situations. On loveisrespect.org, teens can also chat with someone for help.