Dr. Jeff Temple, an assistant professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, will study the impact of teen dating violence on mental health with the help of a research grant from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. 

His proposal was selected from a pool of 47 applicants from 19 universities across Texas. The foundation awarded 10 grants totaling nearly $150,000. The one-year grants are capped at $15,000 each.

Temple will expand an ongoing study of the effects of teen dating violence on mental health and dropout rates among low-income and ethnically diverse youth. According to his proposal, an estimated 25 percent of teens are physically or sexually abused by dating partners each year. Many more are victims of severe emotional and verbal abuse.

“Victims of dating violence experience a host of devastating consequences, including acute and chronic mental and physical health problems, suicide, delinquency, risky sexual behavior, school failure and substance abuse,” said Temple. “Understanding the factors that predict whether a teen ends up in an unhealthy relationship will have enormous implications for the prevention and treatment of dating violence.”

An additional 240 teens will take part in the study, which will serve as the basis for a school-based teen dating violence prevention program.

“Traumatic experiences during the teen years can profoundly affect a person’s ability to succeed in school, in future relationships and in life. The findings from this study could lead to programs that benefit youth across Texas,” said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez Jr., executive director of the foundation.

The Hogg Foundation was founded in 1940 by the children of former Texas Governor James Hogg to promote improved mental health for the people of Texas. The foundation’s grants and programs support mental health consumer services, research, policy analysis and public education projects in Texas. The foundation is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.