Characterize adolescent dating and romantic relationships

We have already touched on the existing body of research on perpetration and victimization rates. 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.

Yet there is not a great deal of research that uses a longitudinal perspective or that considers the dynamics of teen romantic relationships. Other studies have also found sex-based differences in rates of sexual victimization and perpetration in adolescent relationships (e.g., O'Keefe, M., "Adolescents' Exposure to Community and School Violence: Prevalence and Behavioral Correlates," 7 (2000): 1-4). This can include, for example, behavioral, biological, social and emotional changes.

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.

In that 2007 survey, 66 percent of boys and 65 percent of girls who were involved in physically aggressive relationships reported mutual aggression.[7] Twenty-eight percent of the girls said that they were the sole perpetrator; 5 percent said they were the sole victim.

Interestingly, the rates of reported victimization versus perpetration in the state were similar for boys and girls.[3] However, when it comes to severe teen dating violence — including sexual and physical assault — girls were disproportionately the victims.[4] At a recent workshop on teen dating violence, co-sponsored by the U. Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS), researchers presented findings from several studies that found that girls and boys perpetrate the same frequency of physical aggression in romantic relationships.

This finding was at odds with what practitioners attending the workshop said they encounter in their professional experience.

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.

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