Teens Having Babies: The Unexplored Role of Domestic Violence

By Jody Raphael, J.D.
The Prevention Researcher,
Volume 12, Number 1, 2005, Pages 15-17, Item# A121-RAPHAEL

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Although the negative effects of witnessing domestic violence are finally becoming acknowledged, many young girls are already victims of violence within their own dating relationships. Research studies uniformly find that, on average, about 25% of teen dating relationships contain violent elements. Research with pregnant and parenting teens show that they are subject to even higher levels of violence. For some teens, referring to violence from intimate partners as "dating violence" instead of domestic violence minimizes its severity and its effects.

The higher rates of domestic violence among pregnant and parenting teens raise questions about the relationship of this violence to the teen pregnancy itself. The relationship between teen girls' ability to control their own reproduction and the prevalence of domestic violence in their sexual relationships has been little explored. The goal of this exploratory research was to provide a description of that relationship. Using surveys completed by 474 teen mothers on TANF, the prevalence and demographic correlates of domestic violence among these youth is explored. The occurrence of birth control sabotage by their boyfriends, as well as work and education-related sabotage is also explored.

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