Gender and contextual factors in adolescent dating violence

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Besides possible differences in reporting dating violence, young men and women respond to the harmful effects of dating violence in different ways.While males tend to “act out,” becoming more hostile and aggressive, women tend to withdraw and become anxious, depressed, or show compulsive tendencies.

Because adolescence is a time of exploration and development, the teen years are an important window for learning about healthy dating and relationships.The reality is that many teens are learning to abuse and be abused by their dates: between 20-46% of youths have been abused by their relationship partner.Unfortunately, adolescents often remain in violent relationships; one researcher found that 44% of youths remained in relationships after experiencing moderate violence, which is defined as scratches, slaps, and hair pulls.Research has demonstrated that adolescents with friends involved in drug use, delinquency, stealing, and skipping school are more likely to be physically violent with their romantic partners than other adolescents. Common sense, and many past studies have shown that men are normally the perpetrators of dating violence and that women are primarily the victims.This finding has important implications, namely that interventions should focus primarily on changing male behavior.

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