A new study has shown that teenagers in New York face sexual violence at a higher rate than the national average.
The three-year study led by researchers from New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, along with Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health's Centre for Youth Violence Prevention has found that 1 in 6 subjects had experienced sexual violence at some time in their lives.
The study involved more than 1,300 high school students ranging in age from 13-21 with majority of participants 15 or 16 years old.
They found 16.2pct of the teens reported experiencing sexual violence at some point in their lives compared to 7 pct and 10.2 pct.
About 89pct of those who have experienced sexual violence knew the person who perpetrated the victimization, while 28 pct of those who reported having perpetrated sexual violence against their dating partner. They also reported carrying a weapon in the past month.
The study also showed that 60 pct of youth who were physically violent with their dating partners and also reported having engaged in other physical fights in the last year.
"We know the long term adverse consequences on physical and emotional ill health from partner violence among youth," said Dr Leslie Davidson, professor of clinical Epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and a lead researcher on the study.
"It is essential that New York City address this problem with a multi-faceted strategy," Davidson added.
Victims of physical dating violence also reported poorer health status (28pct) and lower self-esteem (25 pct) than youth who have not experienced physical dating violence (21pct and 18pct respectively).
"These data highlight the need for early identification, treatment as well as prevention," said Vaughn Rickert, PhD, professor of clinical Population and Family Health at the Mailman School of Public Health.
"Unfortunately, funding for relationship violence among youth is not a priority. Funds need to be made available at the city, state, and federal levels in order to promote sound intervention and prevention strategies for youth," he added.
Harriet Lessel, executive director of the New City Alliance Against Sexual Assault said that he is hopeful that these findings will highlight an issue that has been kept in the shadows for far too long.
"These are alarming statistics any way you look at them, and we are, and encourage more young people to seek help when they are victimized," he said.