Most of the practitioners in attendance — representing national organizations, schools and victim service community-based agencies — said that they primarily see female victims, and when they discuss teen dating violence with students, they hear that boys are the primary perpetrators. Because teen dating violence has only recently been recognized as a significant public health problem, the complex nature of this phenomenon is not fully understood.
Although research on rates of perpetration and victimization exists, research that examines the problem from a longitudinal perspective and considers the dynamics of teen romantic relationships is lacking.
However, when it comes to for using violence and the consequences of being a victim of teen dating violence, the differences between the sexes are pronounced. O'Leary, "Multivariate Models of Men's and Women's Partner Aggression," 75 (2007): 752-764). [note 10] Molidor, "Gender and Contextual Factors." [note 11] Ackard, D.
Although both boys and girls report that anger is the primary motivating factor for using violence, girls also commonly report self-defense as a motivating factor, and boys also commonly cite the need to exert control. Boys are also more likely to react with laughter when their partner is physically aggressive. Girls experiencing teen dating violence are more likely than boys to suffer long-term negative behavioral and health consequences, including suicide attempts, depression, cigarette smoking and marijuana use.Why do teenagers commit violence against each other in romantic relationships? Kilpatrick, "Prevalence and Correlates of Dating Violence in a National Sample of Adolescents," 47 (2008): 755-762). [note 5] A developmental perspective considers changes over time.
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.These findings are generally consistent with another study that looked at more than 1,200 Long Island, N. [note 27] Fredland, "The Meaning of Dating Violence." [note 28] Larson, R. In 17 percent of the participating couples, only the girls perpetrated physical aggression, and in 4 percent, only the boys were perpetrators. The findings suggest that boys are less likely to be physically aggressive with a girl when someone else can observe their behavior. Neumark-Sztainer, "Long-Term Impact of Adolescent Dating Violence on the Behavioral and Psychological Health of Male and Female Youth," 8 (2002): 1332-1363. Considered together, the findings from these three studies reveal that frequently there is mutual physical aggression by girls and boys in romantic relationships. Cascardi, "Gender Differences in Dating Aggression Among Multiethnic High School Students," 12 (1997): 546-568. [note 15] Dobash, "The Myth." [note 16] Archer, "Sex Differences." [note 17] Wekerle, C., and D. Wolfe, "Dating Violence in Mid-Adolescence: Theory, Significance, and Emerging Prevention Initiatives," 115 (1994): 197-209. These numbers were reversed for the boys: 5 percent said they were the sole perpetrator; 27 percent the sole victim. In a third study, teen couples were videotaped while performing a problem-solving task. 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. 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.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.Some experts hold that men and women are mutually combative and that this behavior should be seen as part of a larger pattern of family conflict. Supporters of this view generally cite studies that use "act" scales, which measure the number of times a person perpetrates or experiences certain acts, such as pushing, slapping or hitting. They contend that men in patriarchal societies use violence to exert and maintain power and control over women. 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. 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. Instead, supporters of this perspective use data on injuries and in-depth interviews with victims and perpetrators.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.