Dating violence and associated health risks among high school students with disabilities

Monika Mitra, Vera E Mouradian, Maria McKenna
Maternal and Child Health Journal 2013, 17 (6): 1088-94
Children with disabilities are at a higher risk for various forms of violence including sexual violence, bullying, and physical violence compared to those without disabilities. However there are no studies documenting the prevalence of dating violence amongst a population-based sample of adolescents with disabilities. The purpose of this study is to assess the prevalence of dating violence victimization against high schools students with and without disabilities and to examine associations of dating violence with health risks by disability status among high school girls. Data from the 2009 Massachusetts Youth Health Survey were analyzed in 2011 using bivariate and multivariate logistic regression. Among high school students who had ever been on a date, girls (25.9 %, 95 % CI 19.9-31.5) and boys (9.1 %, 95 % CI 5.8-12.4) with disabilities were more likely than girls (8.8 %, 95 % CI 6.8-10.8) and boys (4.5 %, 95 % CI 3.1-5.8) without disabilities to report dating violence. Multivariate analyses indicated that high school girls with disabilities who experienced dating violence were more likely to report feeling sad or hopeless for 2 weeks or more in the past year, suicide ideation in the past 12 months, and drug use in the past 30 days compared to those with disabilities who did not report dating violence and those without disabilities who reported and did not report dating violence. High school students with disabilities are at a greater risk for dating violence victimization compared to those without disabilities and high school girls with disabilities who experience dating violence are at increased risk for experiencing poor mental health outcomes and substance abuse.

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