Most of the empirical evidence on teenage partner violence is derived from US studies.

More recently, intimate partner violence among young people has been highlighted as “an understudied area of maltreatment in the UK" and this omission has significantly hampered the development of theoretical understanding and effective prevention programmes (3).

Given the understanding of adolescence as a critical developmental period and the substantial amount of research in relation to adolescence, it is surprising that so little is known about this social problem of violence in adolescent intimate relationships.

Young people involved in dating violence are at higher risk of further violence in future relationships, riskier sexual behaviour (4) and increased rates of substance use and eating disorders (5).

Although a substantive body of UK evidence exists on adult women's, and to a lesser extent children's, experiences of domestic violence (1, 2), we know little about teenagers' own experiences of partner violence.

Rates of relationship abuse vary according to age, sex, and previous experience of violence (8).

The prevalence of relationship violence is higher in adolescents than in adults, with females aged 12 to 18 years having the highest victimisation rate (9).

Approximately 20 per cent of young women have experienced violence from a dating partner (10) and first episodes of violence frequently occur in adolescence (11).

Violence in adolescent relationships is a growing concern for many.

Expert Mark Bowles examines the evidence, prevalence, and impact of this kind of violence on young people – and looks at what schools can do to play their part in tackling the problem Violence in romantic relationships has been long thought to be an adult issue.

However significant evidence from the US exists in relation to its prevalence within adolescent relationships and an understanding of its impact is building in the UK.

Because domestic violence is often perceived as an adult issue, the focus of most research has been on adults and the impact of domestic abuse on their wider families (1, 2).