Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 69–87 | Cite as

Physical, sexual and psychological abuse in high school dating relationships: Prevalence rates and self-esteem issues

  • David R. Jezl
  • Christian E. Molidor
  • Tracy L. Wright


The present study examined the rates of victimization by physical, sexual and psychological abuse in adolescent dating relationships, with self-esteem being explored as a mediating variable. Subjects included 257 students from a coed, ethnically diverse, religiously affiliated high school. Information was obtained using a self-report questionnaire on teenage dating behaviors. Of the 114 male and 118 female subjects who had dating experience, 59% had been victimized at least once in some past or current dating relationship by physical violence, 96% had experienced some form of psychological maltreatment and 15% had been forced to engage in sexual activity. Significantly more males than females reported experiencing physical abuse overall. Significantly more males than females experienced acts of moderate physical abuse, while there was no significant gender difference in the experience of acts of severe physical abuse. Thirteen percent of the subjects stated they had remained in a physically abusive relationship at one time, with females being more likely to remain than males. Self-esteem was not a factor in the level of physical abuse sustained in dating relationships, nor was there a significant difference in the levels of self-esteem between subjects who remained in, terminated, or never were involved in, physically abusive dating relationships. For all subjects, self-esteem negatively correlated with the level of psychological maltreatment sustained in dating relationships, but separate analysis by gender found the correlation was significant only for female subjects.


High School Gender Difference Social Psychology Prevalence Rate Sexual Activity 
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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • David R. Jezl
    • 1
  • Christian E. Molidor
    • 2
  • Tracy L. Wright
    • 3
  1. 1.Chicago
  2. 2.the University of Texas at Arlington in the Social Work DepartmentArlington
  3. 3.the Center for Child Welfare at the University of Texas at ArlingtonArlington

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