90% of teens killed by an intimate partner are girls

News Release

April 15, 2019
For immediate release

90% of teens killed by an intimate partner are girls

Study in JAMA Peditriatics characterizes homicides of adolescent victims who had relationships with perpetrators.

Media Contact: 

Bobbi Nodell - 206.543.7129, bnodell@uw.edu

Intimate-partner homicide among teens does occur and 90 percent of the victims are girls, according to a new  study published in JAMA Pediatrics.

“This is a public health issue that should be taken seriously,” said lead author Avanti Adhia, a senior fellow at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

The researchers examined data from the National Violent Death Reporting System between 2003 and 2016. It encompassed 2,188 homicides of young people 11-18 years old in which the victim knew the perpetrator.

Of these homicides, 150 (6.9 percent) were classified as intimate-partner homicide.

“While not a common occurrence, it does occur more often than people realize,” Adhia said.

In those cases, 90 percent of the perpetrators were male, and guns were the weapon used most commonly, the researchers reported.

“The majority of the homicides occur in older adolescence between the ages of 16 and 18,” she said. “A common circumstance is when a victim ends a relationship with the perpetrator or there is jealousy over the victim dating someone new. “

Another common scenario, Adhia said, is a severe altercation or argument that ends in death by firearm or stabbing.

The data was collected from 32 states; states contributed data for a variable number of years, so no trend analysis was available. But the dataset has since been expanded to 50 states, and more incidents will be reported in future studies.

“Partly why I was interested in this topic is the perception that teen dating violence is less serious than intimate-partner violence among adults,” Adhia said. “It’s important to understand that things can escalate among teens, as well.”

She said evidence-based interventions should be implemented in school and community settings to build teens' awareness and communication skills in relationships and opportunities for bystander intervention.

The work was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (5T32HD057822-09).

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