In South Carolina, for example, nearly 8 percent of adolescents reported being physically violent to a romantic partner.Interestingly, the rates of reported victimization versus perpetration in the state were similar for boys and girls. However, when it comes to severe teen dating violence — including sexual and physical assault — girls were disproportionately the victims.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.[ Giordano is one of the authors of this article.] More than half of the girls in physically aggressive relationships said both they and their dating partner committed aggressive acts during the relationship. About a third of the girls said they were the sole perpetrators, and 13 percent reported that they were the sole victims. Yonas, "The Meaning of Dating Violence in the Lives of Middle School Adolescents: A Report of a Focus Group Study," 4 (1998): 180-194. They found that 30 percent of all the participating couples demonstrated physical aggression by both partners. In 17 percent of the participating couples, only the girls perpetrated physical aggression, and in 4 percent, only the boys were perpetrators. The findings suggest that boys are less likely to be physically aggressive with a girl when someone else can observe their behavior. Neumark-Sztainer, "Long-Term Impact of Adolescent Dating Violence on the Behavioral and Psychological Health of Male and Female Youth," 8 (2002): 1332-1363. 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.
Most of the practitioners in attendance — representing national organizations, schools and victim service community-based agencies — said that they primarily see female victims, and when they discuss teen dating violence with students, they hear that boys are the primary perpetrators. Because teen dating violence has only recently been recognized as a significant public health problem, the complex nature of this phenomenon is not fully understood.
In a third study, teen couples were videotaped while performing a problem-solving task.