Quick Take: Intimate Partner Homicide of Adolescents

    Approximately 43 million adults in the US are affected by intimate partner violence (IPV). Data from the 2017 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicated that among high school students who dated, 6.9% experienced sexual violence, and 8.0% experienced physical violence by someone they were dating or going out with in the past year. The National Survey on Teen Relationships and Intimate Violence also showed that over 60% of adolescents in a current or past-year dating relationship have experienced some form of IPV, which includes physical, sexual, and/or psychological abuse. Intimate partner homicide (IPH) is the most extreme form of IPV, with most existing literature on IPH focusing on the adult population. In this multistate study of homicides of 2188 individuals age 11 to 18 years captured in the National Violent Death Reporting System (2003-2016), investigators aimed to determine the proportion of adolescent homicides perpetrated by intimate partners, to describe the victims, perpetrators, and incident characteristics of IPH in this population. Researchers found that of adolescent homicides, 6.9% were classified as IPH. Of these, 90% were female (mean age 16.8 years, SD 1.3 years). In terms of perpetrators, 77.9% were age 18 years and older (mean 20.6 years, SD 5.0 years). A total of 62.7% were current intimate partners of the victim, 26.7% were former intimate partners, and the relationship status at the time of death was unspecified for the remaining 10.7%. Compared with IPHs of young adults aged 19 to 24 years, perpetrators of adolescent victims were younger and less likely to be a current intimate partner. Firearms were the most common mechanism of injury (61.2%), followed by sharp or blunt instruments (25.2%). Based on available narrative information from the coroner/medical examiner and law enforcement reports, IPH was most often related to broken/desired relationship or jealousy (27.3%) and altercation (24.7%), followed by reckless firearm behavior (8.0%), and pregnancy (6.7%). This study therefore shows that adolescent victims of IPH are largely female and that the circumstances leading to IPH are commonly due to broken/desired relationship or jealousy and altercation, where perpetrators have access to firearms. This has important implications in informing prevention and intervention efforts tailored to adolescents at high risk of IPV/IPH.

    Click to read the study in JAMA Pediatrics

    Image: PD

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