Utah Teens Continue to Grapple with Unhealthy Dating Relationships

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Data from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) shows Utah teens continue to grapple with unhealthy and abusive dating relationships. Approximately one-third (33.8%) of Utah teens who reported dating experienced some form of an unhealthy dating relationship in 2017.

Dating violence or abuse is verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse that occurs between two partners in a dating relationship.

“Experiencing dating violence can negatively affect an individual’s health throughout their entire life and can even put them at greater risk for repeat victimization,” said Marty Liccardo, men’s engagement specialist with the UDOH. Research has shown teens who experience dating violence are more likely to be depressed, do poorly in school, engage in unhealthy behaviors like using drugs and alcohol, and are more likely to have eating disorders. Some teens may even think about or attempt suicide if they do not receive appropriate help and treatment.

Data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) was used to determine how many students in grades 9-12 in Utah experienced dating violence. The UDOH has conducted the YRBS for more than 20 years. The results are used to guide health promotion efforts on a variety of issues ranging from lifestyle choices to violence and injury prevention.

In 2017, among Utah teens who were dating or going out with someone:

  • More than one in four (26.5%) were verbally or emotionally harmed by their dating partner (33.2% of females and 19.7% of males).
  • One out of every 11 were forced by their dating partner to do sexual things they did not want to do.
  • Almost twice as many females (9.6% of females compared to 5.1% of males) were physically hurt on purpose by their dating partner.

“We encourage parents and school administrators to have open and ongoing communication with teens about what healthy relationships look like. It’s also important that we help teens gain the skills necessary to be active bystanders when others may need help,” said Liccardo.

If you or someone you love is in a violent relationship, call the Utah Domestic Violence Link Line at 1-800-897-5465 or the Rape and Sexual Assault Crisis Line at 1-88-421-1100. Both hotlines are free and available 24 hours a day/7 days a week.

To learn the warning signs of a violent or abusive dating relationship, visit http://health.utah.gov/vipp/teens/dating-violence/.

For additional data on Utah teens’ health, including dating violence, download a copy of the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey report at www.health.utah.gov/vipp/pdf/YRBSReport2017.pdf.

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Media Contact:
Katie McMinn
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