Intimate partner homicide among teens does occur and 90 percent of the victims are girls, according to a new study in JAMA Pediatrics.
"This is a public health issue that should be taken seriously," said lead author Avanti Adhia, a senior fellow at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
The study looked at data from the National Violent Death Reporting System from 2003-2016, which included 2,188 homicides of young people 11-18 years where the relationship between the victim and perpetrator was known.
Of these homicides, 150 (6.9 percent) were classified as intimate partner homicide.
"While not a common occurrence, it does occur more often than people realize," said Adhia.
Adhia said 90 percent of the perpetrators are male, and guns are the most common weapon used.
"The majority of the homicides occur in older adolescence between the ages of 16-18," she said. "A common circumstance is when a victim ends a relationship with the perpetrator or there is jealousy over the victim dating someone new. "
Adhia said another common scenario is an acute altercation or argument that ends in death by firearm or stabbing.
The data comes from 32 states and each state contributed data for a different number of years, so no trend analysis was available. But the dataset has been expanded to 50 states and more cases will be available in the future.
"Partly why I was interested in this topic is the perception that teen dating violence is less serious than intimate partner violence among adults," said Adhia. "But it's important to understand that things can escalate among teens as well."
She said evidence-based interventions should be implemented in school and community settings around awareness, communication skills in relationships and bystander intervention.