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Also included in the survey were questions regarding substance abuse, sexual risk behavior, unhealthy weight control, pregnancy and suicidality.
Data analyses also suggest that girls with a history of physical and sexual dating violence are significantly more likely to engage in substance abuse including binge drinking, cocaine use, and heavy smoking, and in unhealthy weight-control behaviors including the use of diet pills and laxatives.
Jay Silverman, lead author of the study and an Assistant Professor of Health and Social Behavior and Director of Violence Prevention Programs at the Harvard School of Public Health's Division of Public Health Practice said of the study, "The finding of such a high prevalence of dating violence against adolescent girls throws a spotlight on the need for all of us to do more to prevent and intervene in this violence to reduce both the immediate risks of injury to young women and the very serious risks to their health that may follow.
We need to increase our efforts to educate young girls about these dangers and how they can get help, and to discourage attitudes among both youth and adults that lead to acceptance of violence in relationships.
Data from the 19 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Surveys were analyzed in the study.
The surveys are administered to students in most states every two years in randomly selected public high school classrooms to track the incidence of behaviors that affect adolescent health.
The researchers analyzed the responses of 1,977 adolescent girls in grades nine through twelve from the 1997 survey and of 2,186 girls from the 1999 survey.The 1997 Massachusetts survey was the first to assess lifetime prevalence of violence from dating partners.