Objective: Dating violence is a significant health problem among youth that leads to adverse health outcomes, including injuries. Reciprocal violence (perpetrated by both partners) is associated with increased injury in adults, but very little is known about the prevalence and context for reciprocal violence, as well as injury rates, among youth. We sought to determine the prevalence and scope of reciprocal dating violence and injury occurrence among urban youth in a high-risk community.
Methods: Analyses were based on data from the Youth Violence Survey, conducted in 2004, and administered to over 80% of public school students in grades 7, 9, 11, and 12 (N=4,131) in a high-risk, urban school district. The current analyses were restricted to those who reported dating in the past year and who also reported any dating violence (n=1,158). Dating violence was categorized as reciprocal (the participant reported both violence perpetration and victimization) and non-reciprocal (the participant report either violence perpetration or victimization, but not both).
Results: Dating violence reciprocity varied by sex. Girls who reported any dating violence were more likely to report reciprocal dating violence (50.4%) than were boys (38.9%). However, reciprocity did not vary by race/ethnicity or grade level. Reciprocal dating violence was more common among participants who reported more frequent violence experiences. Reciprocal violence was also associated with greater injury occurrences relative to non-reciprocal relationships (10.1% versus 1.2%).
Conclusion: Reciprocal dating violence is common among adolescents and leads more often to injury outcomes. In particular, relationships in which boys report reciprocal violence against their partner appear to lead to more frequent injury occurrences. These findings underscore the importance of addressing dating violence and factors that increase risk for reciprocal violence and therefore exacerbate injury occurrence.