Dating violence victimization: associated drinking and sexual risk behaviors of Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Caucasian high school students in Hawaii

Suhasini Ramisetty-Mikler, Deborah Goebert, Stephanie Nishimura, Raul Caetano
Journal of School Health 2006, 76 (8): 423-9
Ethnic minority groups such as Asian/Pacific Islanders (APIs) and native populations in Hawaii are seldom studied in the area of intimate relationships. Using the 1999 Hawaii Youth Risk Behavior Survey, this study examined gender and ethnic differences in experiencing physical dating violence and whether drinking (early initiation, binge drinking), unsafe sexual behaviors (early initiation, multiple partners, use of alcohol and drugs with sex, history of sexual abuse), and suicidality constitute risk for victimization among APIs, Native Hawaiian (NH), and Caucasian high school students in multiethnic state of Hawaii. The final analysis included 559 boys and 683 girls. The overall rate of experiencing physical violence was 7.8% with both genders reporting similar rates (boys 7.6%, girls 8.0%). Although not significantly different, NH students reported a higher rate (11.6%) than Caucasians (7.3%) and APIs (6.5%). Significant bivariate associations were found between victimization and many of the risk factors. Regression analyses indicated that students 16 years or older were nearly 3 times more at risk for experiencing dating violence. The risk was 8-fold if youth were sexually active by age 13 compared to those who abstained. The risk is 3-fold for those who reported prior sexual abuse. Early initiation of drinking (<12 years) and suicidality doubled the risk of being a victim. Clearly, the study highlights the risk of experiencing dating violence when a teen engages in sex very early or uses alcohol. Schools must routinely educate youth about various forms of dating violence, the effects of engaging in early sex, and drinking. Screening adolescents for associated risk factors such as drinking and depression is crucial to identify victimization. Dating violence is an antecedent for adult partner violence. Thus, by reducing youth dating violence, we may consequently reduce the incidence of adult partner violence.

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