NEW YORK, October 2014: From violence to verbal taunts, abusive dating behavior is pervasive among America’s adolescents, according to a new federally funded survey. It says a majority of boys and girls who date describe themselves as both victims and perpetrators.
Sponsored by the National Institute of Justice, the National Survey on Teen Relationships and Intimate Violence was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, a prominent research center that provided preliminary results to The Associated Press. Input came from a nationwide sample of 667 youths aged 12-18 who’d been dating within the past year and who completed a self-administered online questionnaire.
Nearly 20 percent of both boys and girls reported themselves as victims of physical and sexual abuse in dating relationships — but the researchers reported what they called a startling finding when they asked about psychological abuse, broadly defined as actions ranging from name-calling to excessive tracking of a victim. More than 60 percent of each gender reported being victims and perpetrators of such behavior.
The survey found no substantive differences in measures by ethnicity, family income or location.
Elizabeth Mumford, one of the two lead researchers for the survey, acknowledged that some behaviors defined as psychological abuse — such as insults and accusations of flirting — are commonplace but shouldn’t be viewed as harmless.
“None of these things are healthy interactions,” she said. “It’s almost more of a concern that our gut reaction is to accept this as natural.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in its campaigns against teen dating violence, also stresses the potential seriousness of psychological abuse.
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