Change in teen dating violence prevalence and associated demographic characteristics before and after COVID-19 lockdowns

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Introduction/Objectives: Increased rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) were a devastating side-effect of COVID-19 lockdowns. Despite this well-documented increase in rates of IPV against adults, there has been minimal research exploring potential changes in rates of teen dating violence (TDV) across the pandemic. While research has suggested that TDV occurs in different contexts from IPV-facing adults, the aftereffects of TDV are similarly problematic and they can result in long-term mental and physical health issues. Members of various minority groups are at particular risk for IPV due to higher rates of victimization and perpetration. Further, some of these groups have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic which may lead to additional increased risk. As such, an intersectional lens is necessary to adequately investigate pandemic-related changes in TDV rates. To parse these potential relations, we will examine rates of TDV before and after the start of the 2020 pandemic, across a diverse nationally-representative population.

Methods: The current study utilized data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBSS), a nationally representative survey of health risk behaviors experienced by students in grades 9-12 in the United States. For the current study, data concerning demographics and teen dating violence from the 2019 and 2021 YRBSS were used to analyze the prevalence of physical and sexual TDV pre- and post-Covid-19 pandemic. Weighted prevalence and 95% CIs of outcomes were calculated for each year by demographics and sex of sexual contacts. Pairwise t-tests were used to identify demographic differences among outcomes. Across years, change in prevalence of outcomes was assessed by using absolute and relative measures of association overall and by demographics.

Results: We found that teen dating rates significantly decreased from 64.32% to 55.69%. While physical TDV increased slightly (8.23% to 8.54%), we found that sexual TDV significantly increased from 8.20% to 9.72%. In particular, sexual victimization among girls significantly increased from 12.61% to 15.32%. Whereas sexual victimization of teen boys increased but not significantly, from 3.81% to 4.05%. Sexual TDV rates shifted by race with rates decreasing for American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian, Black, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander teens and increasing for Hispanic/Latino, White, and Non-Hispanic Mixed-Race teens. Additionally, sexual TDV rates decreased for students who never had sex and whose sexual contacts were same-sex only and increased for students whose sexual contacts were opposite sex only and both sexes.

Conclusions: The findings indicate a notable decrease in teen dating, coupled with a significant rise in sexual TDV, especially among female adolescents. The data suggest that the pandemic's impact on teen behavior and interactions has been complex, with varying effects across different racial and ethnic groups. Although, these results are cross-sectional in nature and cannot imply a causative relationship between TDV rates and the COVID-19 pandemic. These results highlight the importance of continuous monitoring of TDV trends, especially in the context of global crises, to better protect and support vulnerable youth populations.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 16 Feb 2024
Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Week 2024
- Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, Tulsa, United States
Duration: 13 Feb 202417 Feb 2024


Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Week 2024
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • teenagers
  • dating violence
  • COVID-19
  • sexual dating violence


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