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Teen dating violence and the COVID-19 pandemic: trends from a longitudinal study in Texas.

PURPOSE: Teen dating violence (TDV) is a global public health and safety issue causing health impacts to youth people. This study aimed to examine: (1) the impact of the pandemic on TDV victimisation rates and (2) socioecological factors associated with sustained risk for TDV victimisation during the first year of COVID-19.

METHODS: Data are from an ongoing randomised controlled trial of a TDV prevention programme in Texas (n=2768). We conducted annual assessments in 2019-2021. We used regression modelling to assess demographic, individual, peer and family factors associated with TDV risks.

RESULTS: TDV rates declined from 11.9% in 2019 to 5.2% in 2021. While demographic, peer and family/household factors were not associated with TDV victimisation during the pandemic, individual-level factors (ie, early sexual debut, substance use, acceptance of violence and prior TDV involvement) were related to COVID-era risks. Only early sexual debut was uniquely linked to TDV victimisation risk the first year of COVID-19.

CONCLUSIONS: While TDV rates declined during the pandemic, previous victimisation, substance use and early sexual debut remained potent risks for relationship harm.

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