Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Monica Swahn, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Andra Tharp, Ph.D.


Purpose: When the prevalence of physical teen dating violence (TDV) victimization is examined at the state level, significant variation exists; the prevalence ranges from 7.4% in Oklahoma and Vermont to 17.8% in Louisiana. Using U.S. states as the unit of analysis, this study sought to determine whether gender inequality is a societal level risk factor for TDV victimization.

Method: Data measuring physical TDV victimization were obtained from the 2009 YRBS. To measure the level of gender inequality in each state, the Gender Inequality Index (GII) was calculated using the procedure described in the United Nations’ Human Development Report. Pearson’s correlation coefficients were calculated to determine the association between TDV victimization, the GII, and the indicators of the GII.

Results: Of the 40 states included in analyses, the GII was significantly associated with the state prevalence of both total TDV victimization (r=.323, p=.042) and female TDV victimization (r=.353, p=.026). Subsequent to removal of the outlying case of Oklahoma, the GII was also significantly associated with male TDV victimization (r=.366, p=.022). Several individual GII indicators were significantly associated with TDV victimization after removing the outlying case. Ordinary least squares regression was used to create a model for TDV victimization and gender inequality.

Conclusion: This is the first study to examine societal level gender inequality as a risk factor for state level TDV victimization using nationally representative data on school youth. As policy-makers implement TDV prevention policy at the state level, further research understanding potential macro-level risk factors is particularly important.