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By on February 4, 2021

CDC Vital Signs: Impact of Violence on Teen’s Lives

This Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a Vital Signs report on teens’ experiences of violence and related health conditions and risk behaviors. In order to prevent violence in adolescence, understanding the prevalence of violence, types of violence, and outcomes of experiencing violence is crucial.

Key findings from the Vital Signs report include:Young teen doing homework. Text reads, "Violence impacts teens' lives. Prevent violence. Improve lifelong health. #vitalsigns Feb 2021"

  • The prevalence of violence experienced by teens is high, with about half of teens experiencing at least one type of violence (physical fighting, sexual violence, dating violence, bullying), and about 15% of teens experiencing at least two types of violence in a one-year period.
  • Girl teens and LGBTQ+ teens are more likely to experience violence compared to their boy teen and heterosexual peers, respectively.
  • Experiencing more violence as a teenager increases the risk of engaging in risky health behaviors, such as substance use, risky sexual behaviors, missing school, weapon carrying, etc.
  • With the COVID-19 pandemic, some teens experience a higher risk of online bullying and threats.

The findings from the Vital Signs report call on the urgent need to prevent violence before it occurs, focus prevention efforts throughout a lifetime, and combine efforts with other violence prevention practitioners and partners to prevent multiple forms of violence. The CDC Technical Packages for Violence Prevention provide strategies for preventing multiple forms of violence, including sexual violence, intimate partner violence, and youth violence. Practitioners can also examine VetoViolence’s Connecting the Dots tool to find strategies that prevent multiple forms of violence, which is based on the document Connecting the Dots: An Overview of the Links Among Multiple Forms of Violence.

Violence experienced at any age creates trauma and exacerbates inequities, but violence experienced during crucial developmental years, such as during youth and adolescence, can have greater harmful impacts, as shown in this Vital Signs report. Prevention is happening, with youth and teens leading and being experts in identifying prevention solutions. Check out the links below for inspiration and resources on preventing teen dating violence and sexual violence during Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month and year-round.

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