Daughter hit puberty early? She’s at more risk for dating abuse, study finds

Could reaching puberty quicker and having friendships with boys increase a girls’ chance of being abused?
RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

A new study out of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, which will be published in the June issue of Pediatrics, looked at puberty progression compared to other girls their age and incidents of what it called adolescent dating abuse.

Here’s what it found:

  • Early-maturing girls were more likely to be seen as attractive to the opposite sex.
  • Early-maturing girls had more dating relationships than their peers.
  • Early-maturing girls had less time to develop coping skills to handle abusive behavior.
  • Girls who had more guy friends were at an increased risk for abuse.
  • Girls who were friends with older friends were at an increase risk for abuse.
  • Girls whose friends were also being abused were at an increase risk for abuse.

While this study looked at almost 4,000 students who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, these students were in high school and middle school in 1994, when the study was launched and have been followed through 2016, when they are now adults in their 30s and 40s.

It would be interesting to see this study done on today’s kids who now have things like social media playing a huge role in social norms and how they view relationships.