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Study looks at teen dating violence and murder

Some Maryland teenagers, particularly girls, may be at a greater risk of violence from an intimate partner than they or many people realize. Some experts expressed surprise over a study that appeared in "JAMA Pediatrics" in April 2019. It reported that almost 7 percent of over 2,000 adolescents who were killed from 2003 to 2016 were killed by an intimate partner. The average age of the person killed was 17, and 90 percent were female. Most of the partners were older than 18.

A handgun was involved in more than 60 percent of cases. Refusing to start a relationship or trying to end one was the reason in more than one-fourth of cases. Another one-fourth of cases involved intense arguments. Other reasons included using firearms recklessly or arguments over a pregnancy. The couple may have disagreed about what to do about the baby, or the perpetrator may have been worried about statutory rape charges.

The National Survey on Teen Relationships and Intimate Violence reports that over 60 percent of teenagers said that in a current or previous relationship, they experienced emotional, sexual, or physical violence. Experts said that parents and health care professionals should talk openly with teenagers about violence. School counselors and nurses can also recognize signs of abuse and help educate students about the dangers. Keeping guns safely secured is also important.

People who are facing serious charges may want to talk to an attorney about criminal defense strategies that may vary depending on the situation. An attorney might look at how evidence was handled and if searches and other actions were carried out legally. If not, some evidence could be dismissed. A plea bargain, in which the defendant pleads guilty and receives a lighter sentence, is another possibility.

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