Domestic violence starts young, very young — on average in 8th or 9th grade.
According to a study by Vangie A. Foshee of The Safe Date Project, 25 percent of high school students indicated that they had been victims of dating violence before reaching the 10th grade.
That means almost a fourth of children between the ages of 13 and 15 begin to experience violent or inappropriate dating habits, such as name-calling, physical force and controlling behaviors, before their identities have been fully developed, which can have long-lasting negative effects on a child's personal development.
"Girls who reported that they had been sexually or physically abused were more than twice as likely as nonabused girls to report smoking, drinking and using illegal drugs," Cathy Schoen of the Commonwealth Fund found in her research. "In addition, 32 percent of girls who had been abused reported bingeing and purging, compared to 12 percent of girls who had not been abused."
That's not all, however. Even though the average age of a child's first exposure to intimate violence is in between the ages of 13 and 15, the majority of domestic violence victims — or 42 percent — occur between the ages of 18 and 24 years old.
What makes this more startling is that people between the ages of 18 and 24 comprised only 11.7 percent of the population in 2002 when this study was conducted. This means that a disproportionately large number of domestic violence cases are happening to a relatively small part of the population, as seen in the following graph.
In a recent Deseret News National story, Lois Collins offered some tips for parents on how to help stop domestic violence among children before it starts, at a time when they are most vulnerable.
Brittany Binowski is a senior web producer for Deseret National. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet her online @binowski.