Interpersonal violence and gender inequality in adolescents

Published November 21, 2023, in Journal of Adolescent Health (opens in a new window)



Interpersonal violence is a leading cause of adolescent deaths and disability. This study investigates sex differences in burden of interpersonal violence for adolescents and explores associations with gender inequality.


Using data from the 2019 Global Burden of Disease study, we report numbers, proportions, rates of interpersonal violence deaths and disability adjusted life years (DALYs) for all ages, and rate of change (from 1990 to 2019) in adolescents aged 10–24 years disaggregated by sex and geography. We explored associations with gender inequality using gender inequality index.


One in four (24.8%) all-age interpersonal violence deaths are in adolescents. In 2019, the rate of deaths in adolescent males was almost six times higher than females (9.3 vs. 1.6 per 100,000); and since 1990, the rate of decline in DALYs for females was double than that for males (−28.9% vs. −12.7%). 

By contrast, the burden of sexual violence is disproportionately borne by adolescent females, with over double the rate than males (DALYs: 42.8 vs. 17.5 per 100,000). In countries with greater gender inequality, the male-to-female ratio (deaths and DALYs) was increased among older adolescents, pointing to benefits for males in more gender equal settings.


Social identities, relationships, and attitudes to violence are established in adolescence, which is an inflection point marking the emergence of disproportionate burdens of interpersonal violence. Our findings affirm that global agendas must be expanded to address interrelated factors driving multiple forms of interpersonal violence experienced by adolescents and reverberating to the next generation.

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Cullen P, Peden A, Francis K, et al. Interpersonal Violence and Gender Inequality in Adolescents: A Systematic Analysis of Global Burden of Disease Data From 1990 to 2019. Journal of Adolescent Health. 21 November 2023. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2023.08.044.