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The schools were located in urban and suburban areas, and 95 percent of the participants were not white.

The survey findings stand in stark contrast to one other set of statistics: In 2012, 94% of abuse victims who contacted the National Dating Abuse Helpline were female and just 6% were male, says Katie Ray Jones, president of the dating abuse helpline and the National Domestic Abuse Hotline.

The dating line, which offers 24-hour help by online chat (at loveisrespect.org), text (text "loveis" to 22522) or phone (1-866-331-9474), is aimed at young people of both genders.

Researchers and educators eager to stop violent patterns early — and reduce abuse not only among teens but among the adults they will become — already are testing programs that teach younger children and teens how to have healthier relationships.

But as they seek to understand why so many young people hit, demean or force sex on their partners, much remains unclear.

Evidence has already shown that cyber dating abuse is linked to physical, sexual and psychological abuse, Dick said.