Teen Dating Violence: An Overview of Boys and Girls

Teen Dating Violence (TDV)

We opened the month in support of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, and this week we’d like to talk more about how teen dating violence affects girls and boys. Because “among adolescents aged 12 to 21, almost 3 in 10 have experienced violence in opposite-sex relationships,” and according to Womenshealth.gov “in the United States, teens and young women experience the highest rates of relationship violence. In fact, 1 in 10 female high-schoolers say they have been physically abused by a dating partner in the past year.”

The Cycle of Violence

Although teen dating violence is a problem itself, it is helpful to look at violence as a whole to better understand why, how, and when it happens. One way of looking at the subject of violence is through what is called the “cycle of violence,” which looks at the different phases of abuse. This cycle is about controlling another person within the boundaries of a relationship, and it can be physical, emotional, mental, or even financial.

The picture below, from the Lindsay Anne Burke Memorial Fund, shows the three stages that make up the cycle of abuse.

The Roles of TDV in Girls and Boys

Thought it is helpful to look at teen dating violence within the wider context of violence, it is also important to look at the particular aspects of teen dating violence. One of these aspects is the role of males and females as both the victims and perpetrators of dating violence.

We’ve already mentioned that girls have the highest risk for teen dating violence and are the most likely to experience the negative outcomes connected with TDV. Some of these outcomes can include issues like depression, substance abuse, poor self-esteem, and school problems.

According to Poco D. Kernsmith and Richard M. Tolman although girls are more likely to be physically hurt by a boy’s violence or by retaliation if they fight back, it is important to remember that boys can be hurt by a girl’s violent actions as well. They might also have to deal with negative outcomes in different ways than girls such as in reduced school performance, depression, and poor health. The risk of developing any one, or a combination, of these negative outcomes can harm the overall future and health of teenage girls and boys.

To find out more about the roles of boys and girls in TDV as both victims and doers of violence, check back later this week for more information and resources.


Kernsmith and Tolman (2011). Attitudinal Correlates of Girls’ Use of Violence in Teen Dating Relationships. Violence Against Women 17: 500.


One Response

  1. […] above quote reiterates what we’ve already talked about earlier this week, that girls are the most at-risk and where they fall into the overall cycle of violence. But, the […]

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