(Salt Lake City, UT) – New data from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBS) show that in 2013, one in four (28%) high school students who dated or went out with someone in the past year report they were emotionally, verbally, physically, or sexually abused by that person. This percentage goes down as students get older, especially for female students.
According to YRBS data, in 2013:
• 22.7% of students reported being verbally or emotionally harmed one or more times by a dating partner. Females (19.2%) were more likely to report verbal and emotional abuse compared to males (11.7%).
• 10.7% of students reported being forced to do sexual things they did not want to by a dating partner. Females (15.0%) were more likely to report sexual abuse compared to males (6.3%).
• 6.9% of students reported being physically hurt on purpose one or more times by a dating partner.
• 21.9% of students reported being bullied on school property; with the majority (16.8%) being electronically bullied.
To help teachers and students understand the dynamics of unhealthy dating relationships, the UDOH and Utah Healthy Relationship Task Force have developed a dating violence prevention toolkit.
“The Healthy Relationships Toolkit was adapted for Utah classrooms from the evidence-based curriculum ‘Safe Dates’, which has been shown to significantly reduce psychological, sexual, and physical abuse and perpetration in national studies,” said Katie McMinn, UDOH Violence Prevention Specialist.
The toolkit provides interactive role plays, worksheets, and games to help students understand the differences between caring, supportive relationships and controlling, manipulative, or abusive ones. Local resources for individuals who may be in abusive relationships are provided, as well as safety tips, warning signs, and practical tools to help students understand the attitudes and behaviors associated with unhealthy relationships and dating violence.
“As a community we need to teach our young people how to respect one another, talk through problems, and manage their anger in a healthy manner,” said McMinn. “If we do that, we can reduce and even end violence, whether it’s domestic or dating violence, bullying, or child abuse.”