Journal Issue: Domestic Violence and Children Volume 9 Number 3 Winter 1999
Patti L. Culross
Other Child-Centered Opportunities for Domestic Violence Identification
Since the early 1980s, research has documented that relationship violence of a type similar to adult domestic violence is present among high-school-age teenagers.33 In these studies, the lifetime prevalence rate of physical violence in teen relationships is 20%,26 similar to the rates among adult women.6 A survey of eighth-graders found that 9% of female and male victims of relationship violence had received emergency department treatment for injuries resulting from the violence.34
Many adults mark adolescence as the start of their own experiences with partner violence.35,36 Yet, no systematic dating violence screening exists for adolescents in the settings in which they receive health care, such as pediatric, school-based, teen, and family-planning clinics. Little is known about the types of services adolescents in violent relationships require, the extent of nonfatal injuries they suffer because of abuse, and the extent to which they interact with health care professionals due to these injuries. Many adolescents accept aggression and violence in relationships as normal.37 Research is needed to determine if intervention at this age can work to prevent violence continuing in adulthood. (For information on domestic violence prevention programs for adolescents, see the article by Wolfe and Jaffe in this journal issue.)Prenatal Care
Prevalence estimates of domestic violence during pregnancy range from 0.9% to 20.1% depending on study methodology, with most studies reporting a prevalence between 3.9% and 8.3%.38 Although the rates of violence to pregnant women are no higher than among women generally, neither does pregnancy seem to afford any special protection from violence. A recent literature review of domestic violence and adverse pregnancy outcomes found no outcome consistently associated with violence during pregnancy.39
Because prenatal care requires an ongoing relationship with the health care system, pregnancy presents regular opportunities for screening and identification of domestic violence. Additionally, women younger than 30 years old are both at greater risk for abuse than older women,40 and also are more likely to be pregnant.
Screening targeted to pregnant adolescents presents an important opportunity for domestic violence intervention. Most adolescent pregnancies are unwanted or mistimed.