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State-level teen dating violence education laws and teen dating violence victimisation in the USA: a cross-sectional analysis of 36 states

Abstract

Background Approximately 10% of teens report experiencing sexual dating violence (SDV) or physical dating violence (PDV), collectively represented as teen dating violence (TDV). This study examines the association between laws incorporating TDV education in schools on TDV prevalence.

Methods TDV prevalence was estimated using data contributed by 36 states that participated in the 2015 Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance Survey (YRBS). Presence of TDV laws was determined using Westlaw, a legal search engine. The adjusted odds of TDV victimisation was estimated by the presence or absence of a state law and length of time the law was in effect using hierarchical regression modelling, clustering on state, controlling for individual-level and state-level covariates and incorporating the YRBS-weighted survey design.

Results After controlling for individual-level and state-level covariates, the presence of a law was not associated with TDV (adjusted OR (aOR) 0.97; 95% CI 0.88 to 1.06), PDV (aOR 1.12; 95% CI 0.95 to 1.33) or SDV (aOR 0.99; 95% CI 0.91 to 1.08). These odds did not differ across the length of time the policies were in effect.

Conclusions This study suggest that just the presence of a law incorporating TDV education in schools is not associated with reduced TDV victimisation but further research is needed to understand the association of the content of these laws and their implementation on TDV victimisation.

  • violence
  • cross sectional study
  • policy analysis
  • adolescent

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