Updates on adolescent dating and sexual violence prevention and intervention

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Dating and sexual violence victimization are not uncommon in early adolescence and increase in prevalence throughout adolescence into young adulthood with profound health and social consequences. Greater attention to what works in prevention is needed to inform current policies and practices.

Recent findings

Adolescent dating violence (ADV) and sexual violence victimization, including cyber dating abuse, are highly prevalent among adolescents. Studies have found sex category differences, with adolescent girls reporting more victimization than boys, particularly sexual violence. Sexual and gender minority youth also experience a higher prevalence of violence victimization than their heterosexual counterparts. Studies on risk factors include examinations of childhood adversities, exposure to sexually explicit material and substance use as well as the role of gender inequitable attitudes on violence perpetration. Recent prevention research includes examining the impact of bystander interventions and transforming gender norms.

Summary

Recent ADV/ sexual violence research highlights both prevalence and modifiable risk and protective factors that may help reduce such violence. Practitioners caring for youth should consider ADV/ sexual violence when seeing patients (including those struggling with substance use and other behaviours that contribute to poor health) and not simply rely on screening tools to identify those suffering from ADV/ sexual violence.

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