Dating in the school yard

Eligible students interested in participating were escorted to a private area in the clinic for consent or assent and survey administration.Because participants were receiving confidential clinical services, parental permission for participation was waived for minors.Eleven SHCs in Northern California were randomly assigned to intervention or a delayed-intervention control condition.Subsequent to randomization but before participant enrollment, 3 health centers (1 intervention, 2 control) withdrew from the study because of changes in school administrators who would not allow the SHCs to participate in research.Understanding the prevalence and correlates of cyber dating abuse in this clinic-based sample may guide prevention and intervention efforts to reduce such abuse and improve adolescent health.Data are from a cross-sectional survey that served as baseline data for a cluster-randomized trial in SHCs to promote healthy relationships and reduce ARA (Clinical Trials.gov, identifier NCT01678378).Before the clinical encounter, youth used a laptop with headphones to complete a 15-minute audio computer-assisted survey about ARA and other forms of violence victimization, sexual behavior, and care seeking for sexual and reproductive health.

Whether cyber dating abuse correlates with poor health independent of its co-occurrence with other forms of ARA is not known.

This may be particularly relevant for clinicians uncertain about the extent to which cyber dating abuse potentially contributes to the behaviors they are addressing in the clinical setting.

Possibly related to the health consequences of ARA, adolescents seeking care in confidential adolescent health settings have a higher prevalence of ARA than general population-based studies.

Adolescents are increasingly using texting and online social networking sites to connect with other adolescents, with 63% reporting exchanging text messages daily and 29% reporting daily communication through social networking sites.

A qualitative study of older adolescents, all with histories of abusive relationships, identified multiple ways in which technology was used to perpetrate abuse including monitoring or controlling the activities or whereabouts of a partner and being emotionally or verbally abusive to a partner.

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