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Press Release

For Immediate Release
May 17, 2006
Contact: Gail Hayes
CDC, Injury Media Relations
Phone: (770) 488-4902

New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Initiative seeks to reduce youth dating violence

"Choose Respect" effort focuses on teaching healthy relationship skills

Atlanta (May 18, 2006) - Adolescents who report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year are more likely to report binge drinking, suicide attempts, physical fighting and current sexual activity, said a study published today in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

The study examined data from CDC's 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Survey
(YRBS) to study the link between physical dating violence and selected behaviors that can place adolescents' health and well-being at risk. One in 11 high school students reported physical dating violence victimization in the past 12 months equating to nearly 1.5 million high school students a year, the report said.

Other key findings:

  • The risk of being a victim of physical dating violence is similar for both high school boys and girls; it does not increase with grade levels, nor change noticeably geographically
  • Lower grades in school were associated with higher reported levels of physical dating violence
  • Reported physical dating violence was more for African-American teens (13.9%), followed by Hispanic teens (9.3%) compared to white teens (7.0%)

"This study illustrates the importance of teaching adolescents how to have good relationships," said Dr. Ileana Arias, director of CDC's National Center for Injury and Violence Prevention. "Not only do such efforts reduce the number of immediate injuries, they can improve the overall health and well-being of our nation's children. As this study suggests, if adolescents have good social relationship skills, they are better equipped to avoid behaviors that can put their health and well-being at risk."

Findings from this and other recent research has led to the development of a new CDC initiative to help adolescents, ages 11 to 14 years old, form healthy relationships. The initiative entitled, "Choose Respect," seeks to prevent dating abuse before it starts. "Adolescents need encouragement, examples, and guidance from parents, schools, and communities about how to relate to other people," Arias said. "Many adolescents are thinking about dating or starting to date, but often have little knowledge or experience in forming effective relationships. Choose Respect highlights the importance of respecting other people, and it provides information on how to effectively handle conflicts -and it does so by encouraging positive action on the part of youth."

The online materials include:

  • Games and interactive learning tools, including conversation starters such as e-cards, clickable quizzes and activity ideas for parents and other caring adults.
  • Streaming video clips for teens to make their own movies about healthy relationships
  • A 30 minute video with compelling stories of real teens that have experienced dating abuse.
  • Television and radio spots

These tools are designed to help adults recognize and prevent unhealthy, violent relationships for their children. "Adolescents need trusted adults to talk to about important issues," Arias said.

"Choose Respect encourages adults to support the positive social skills of youth to help prevent unhealthy relationship habits." Throughout the summer of 2006, CDC will work with community agencies in 10 cities, along with the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) to create awareness of the campaign's themes and resources among 11 to 14 year-olds and their parents. The locations are Hartford, Conn., Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, Phoenix, San Antonio, Topeka, Kan., and Washington D.C. Each city will hold a variety of activities to ensure that messages reach adolescents and increase awareness of the importance of respecting friends and peers and to teach skills that help adolescents form healthy relationships.

For more information on Choose Respect go to

For more information about CDC's work in injury and violence prevention, go to

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This page last updated May 19, 2006

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