Boys and Teen Dating Violence

Stop a second and close your eyes.

Yes really –RIGHT THERE…

…right in your chair

…or on the sidewalk

…or on the train.

Wherever you are, stop a second and think:

When you hear the terms ‘domestic violence’ or ‘dating violence,’ what immediately comes to mind?

For most of us, the image of a bruised and battered woman or teenage girl as the victim of her male partner probably springs to mind. The problem with that is while advocating for female victims and focusing mostly on their needs, an entire group of victims has been ignored – the male victim.

 “In fact, a consistent but counterintuitive finding is that female adolescents inflict more physical violence than male adolescents, with female perpetration rates ranging from 28 percent to 33percent in contrast to male perpetration rates ranging from 11 percent to 20 percent” (ACT For Youth).

There could be many reasons for the large number stated in this study, such as the violence women might enact in self-defense, or because they’ve been hurt in the past – all of which we’ve mentioned before. However, the most important thing to note is the point that men are also at-risk, and most studies agree that the number of abusers in teen relationships is probably equal by gender. The stigma attached to boys reporting female on male violence is a problem that can lead to under reporting of that type of violence.

What we’re trying to say is this: Though teenage girls are at great risk for dating violence, so are boys. More needs to be said about the dual role that boys also play, as victims and abusers. Boys often practice learned behavior. They might come from violent homes, witness domestic violence, or come from a background that encourages aggressive male behavior. These factors can lead to them perpetuating violence in their relationships or opening them up to victimization by their partner. If we aren’t talking about how boys are affected overall then we’re just keeping up the cycle.

We just want everyone to remember the overall message, that anyone is at risk for teen dating violence and both genders can get caught up on either side of the problem, as victims or perpetrators.

To learn more about the different roles of boys and girls in TDV and where to go for help, please check out some of the following resources.

Dating Matters
This site shares some great discussion on the role that gender places in dating violence.

How aware are you?
This is a quiz that tests your knowledge about teen dating violence and awareness.

Can Guys Be Victims of Dating Violence?
This site talks about boys as victims and how people view the problem.

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