Alaska data included in new study on teen domestic violence deaths
A new study on teens killed by partners in relationships, which uses data from dozens of states including Alaska, overwhelmingly shows that victims are female.
The University of Washington study, published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, breaks down data from 32 states submitted to the federal National Violent Death Reporting System from 2003 through 2016. According to the study, of the 2,188 homicide victims between 11 and 18 years old within that time period, 150 were perpetrated by an intimate partner.
“Intimate partner homicide victims were largely female and killed by a firearm, and homicides often involved broken relationships or jealousy,” the study’s authors wrote. “Intimate partner homicide of adolescents is an important problem that warrants further study and proactive intervention.”
According to the study, 135 of the 150 victims in the cases examined were female. About a third of them were attacked at their own homes.
Avanti Adhia, a senior fellow at the university’s Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, was the principal author of the study. She said Monday afternoon that she didn’t have detailed data on Alaska’s deaths, but noted that NVDRS is still evolving and offers the promise of deeper detail in future examinations.
“Eventually this data system will be in all 50 states,” Adhia said. “And so as we gather more data, it would be really interesting to look at geographic differences or be able to dive into individual states.”
The researchers framed four narratives — broken/desired relationships or jealousy, altercations, reckless behavior involving firearms and pregnancy-related homicides — that covered nearly 70% of the 150 intimate partner homicides. The first two categories each covered about a quarter of the total, 41 and 37 homicides respectively, with another 12 homicides linked to reckless behavior involving firearms and 10 more to pregnancies.
Researchers also found previous histories of abuse in 27 of the cases, with sexual violence by the victim, perpetrator or both noted in four deaths. “Substance involvement” by the victim, suspect or both was mentioned in 12 cases.
Firearms were used in 90 of the homicides, including 57 conducted with handguns; sharp or blunt instruments were used in 37 deaths. A total of 24 perpetrators died of suicide in the same incidents, primarily by using firearms.
Asked about the accuracy of the system’s data, Adhia said it is generally comprehensive on the reporting states’ homicides, but may be prone to ongoing issues involving the underreporting of intimate partner violence.
“I do think in general there is a good amount of underreporting of IPV,” she said. “Maybe some of that is particularly around adolescents; maybe they don’t consider what they’re experiencing to be violence, and maybe they don’t want people to know.”
Among the most surprising results of the study, Adhia said, were the extensive involvement of firearms in the deaths, as well as the prevalence of changes in relationships as a motivation for the killings.
“I think, when we think about adolescents who are in these abusive relationships, that we think, ‘Oh, well they should just get out of them,’” she said. “But that’s actually a really dangerous time, is when they want to leave a relationship or they say they want to break up — that could actually spur somebody to then commit further violence.”
Other states contributing data to the study included: Arizona; Colorado; Connecticut; Georgia; Hawaii; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; and Wisconsin.
Alaska hosts various resources for teens suffering from domestic abuse.
GENERAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESOURCES: If you are facing threatened or actual domestic violence, please discreetly call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or Abused Women's Aid in Crisis in Anchorage at 1-907-272-0100.
TEEN DATING VIOLENCE RESOURCES:
Alaska Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault list of statewide crisis lines
Love is Respect: 1-866-331-9474, 1-866-331-8453 TTY or text “loveis” to 22522
Sitkans Against Family Violence
Sitka Youth Leadership Committee
Stand Up Speak Up Alaska
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