Trends in dating patterns and adolescent development

About a third of the girls said they were the sole perpetrators, and 13 percent reported that they were the sole victims.

Almost half of the boys in physically aggressive relationships reported mutual aggression, nearly half reported they were the sole victim, and 6 percent reported that they were the sole perpetrator.[6] These findings are generally consistent with another study that looked at more than 1,200 Long Island, N. Yonas, "The Meaning of Dating Violence in the Lives of Middle School Adolescents: A Report of a Focus Group Study," 4 (1998): 180-194.

In 17 percent of the participating couples, only the girls perpetrated physical aggression, and in 4 percent, only the boys were perpetrators.[8] The findings suggest that boys are less likely to be physically aggressive with a girl when someone else can observe their behavior.

Considered together, the findings from these three studies reveal that frequently there is mutual physical aggression by girls and boys in romantic relationships. Neumark-Sztainer, "Long-Term Impact of Adolescent Dating Violence on the Behavioral and Psychological Health of Male and Female Youth," 8 (2002): 1332-1363.

As a result, practitioners and researchers in the field tend to apply an adult intimate partner violence framework when examining the problem of teen dating violence. Although most research tends to indicate that more severe forms of physical violence are disproportionately experienced by girls, this is not a universal finding (O'Leary, K. [note 6] Giordano, P., "Recent Research on Gender and Adolescent Relationships: Implications for Teen Dating Violence Research/ Prevention," presentation at the U. Departments of Health and Human Services and Justice Workshop on Teen Dating Violence: Developing a Research Agenda to Meet Practice Needs, Crystal City, Va., December 4, 2007.

A split currently exists, however, among experts in the adult intimate partner violence arena, and attendees at the DOJ-HHS teen dating workshop mirrored this divide.

And so, to help further the discussion, we offer in this article a gender-based analysis of teen dating violence with a developmental perspective.[5] We look at what we know — and what we don't know — about who is the perpetrator and who is the victim in teen dating violence.

We also discuss how adult and adolescent romantic relationships differ in the hope that an examination of existing research will help us better understand the problem and move the field toward the creation of developmentally appropriate prevention programs and effective interventions for teenagers.

They found that 30 percent of all the participating couples demonstrated physical aggression by both partners. According to the 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, approximately 10 percent of adolescents nationwide reported being the victim of physical violence at the hands of a romantic partner during the previous year.[1] The rate of psychological victimization is even higher: Between two and three in 10 reported being verbally or psychologically abused in the previous year, according to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.[2] As for perpetration rates, there are currently no nationwide estimates for who does the abusing, and state estimates vary significantly.In South Carolina, for example, nearly 8 percent of adolescents reported being physically violent to a romantic partner.They contend that men in patriarchal societies use violence to exert and maintain power and control over women.[13] These experts also maintain that "act" scales do not accurately reflect the nature of violence in intimate relationships because they do not consider the degree of injury inflicted, coercive and controlling behaviors, the fear induced, or the context in which the acts occurred.[14] Studies using "act" scales, they contend, lack information on power and control and emphasize the more common and relatively minor forms of aggression rather than more severe, relatively rare forms of violence in dating and intimate partner relationships.[15] Instead, supporters of this perspective use data on injuries and in-depth interviews with victims and perpetrators.[16] We believe, however, that applying either of these adult perspectives to adolescents is problematic. Although both views of adult intimate partner violence can help inform our understanding of teen dating violence, it is important to consider how adolescent romantic relationships differ from adult romantic relationships in several key areas.

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