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One in 10 high school youth physically hurt by dating partners

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One in 10 high school students in the US have been hit or physically hurt by a dating partner in the past year, according to a new study.

The study, led by Boston University researchers, analysed data from 100,901 students who participated in the national Youth Risk Behaviour Surveillance System survey (YRBSS) for the years 1999-2011.

They found that 9.3 per cent of US high school students have been "hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose" by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year - an annual prevalence rate that has not changed significantly in the past 12 years.

The experience of being hit, slapped or otherwise physically hurt was reported at nearly equivalent rates by males and females who participated in the survey.

There was a statistically significant increased rate of dating-violence victimisation among black (12.9 per cent) and multiracial (12.2 per cent) youth, as compared to whites and Asians (8 per cent) or Hispanic youth (10.5 per cent).

The rate of dating violence victimisation remained stable over the 1999-2011 period for both males and females, and for each racial subgroup, despite a number of efforts to curb dating violence in the last decade.

"While 9 per cent may sound low, this figure puts dating violence on par with many of the other public health issues that we tend to view as serious problems, such as obesity, frequent cigarette smoking, or driving after drinking," Emily Rothman said.

"The real concern here is that the rate has not gone down at all in the past 12 years, while the rate of physical fighting with peers has decreased significantly," Rothman said.

"That means that whatever headway we have made in reducing youth violence does not extend to people in dating or sexual relationships," Rothman added.

The study was published in the Journal of School Violence.

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