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While it may seem teens in violent relationships are either the victim or the perpetrator, a new study found those teens are actually likely to play both roles at some point in their lives.
Conducted by Cornell University, researchers collected data from 80 schools and 2,203 students, beginning in 10th grade and continuing through college and the work field.
Each participant gave insight into whether their partner was insulting, engaged in name-calling, made threats or became physical. They also indicated if and how they engaged in similar behavior.
More than a third of the respondents said they had been a victim and 31 percent reported being perpetrators.
Both girls and boys who had experience in a violent relationship showed greater depressive symptoms and psychological issues.
“One-third said they had been a victim
and 31 percent reported being perpetrators.”
The study, which was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, indicates aggression levels between teen partners can escalate, blurring the lines between victim and attacker.
“The violence in a relationship can be mutual, in that both partners engage in some aggression. Or it could be a learned behavior, so that someone who is victimized in one relationship perpetrates in another,” said lead researcher Denise L. Haynie.
“It is consistent with other literature on dating violence among adolescents to find that boys experience dating violence at similar rates as girls and for girls to perpetrate at similar rates as boys,” she said. “This is in contrast with what is known about intimate partner violence among adults, where women report more frequent victimization.”
Study co-author Deinera Exner-Cortens said more research is needed to better understand escalating aggression in young adults.
“The best advice is to help teens understand what a healthy relationship looks like and what to do if it’s not going well,” Exner-Cortens said. “Adolescents entering the world of dating are just learning how to negotiate romantic relationships and how to manage conflict.”