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Dating Violence Common by 7th Grade: Survey
Date:3/29/2012

d Saginaw, Mich.

The average age of the 1,430 students polled was 12, and boys and girls were equally represented. About one-quarter were white; 30 percent, black; 34 percent, Hispanic and 12 percent were a combination of other races.

The survey defined teen dating violence as any form of physical, sexual or emotional violence occurring within the context of dating. Psychological violence includes controlling behaviors, such as not allowing a girlfriend or boyfriend to do things with other people. Electronic violence covers bullying and name-calling online or via texts, and physical violence includes pushing, grabbing or kicking one's partner.

Asked about these and other behaviors in the previous six months:

  • Thirty-seven percent said that they had seen boys or girls being physically abusive towards their dating partner. About one-quarter had a male or female friend who was physically violent to a partner, and more than 20 percent had a friend whose partner was physically violent to him or her.
  • Forty-nine percent said they had been sexually harassed, either physically or verbally, by being touched inappropriately or joked about.
  • Seven percent strongly agreed that it was okay for a boy to hit his girlfriend under certain circumstances, such as "a girl who makes her boyfriend jealous on purpose." Interestingly, 50 percent strongly agreed that it was OK for a girl to hit her boyfriend in the same siutation.
  • Sixty-three percent agreed with what the pollsters considered a "harmful stereotype" about gender, such as "girls are always trying to get boys to do what they want" or "With boyfriends and girlfriends, boys should be smarter than girls."

"But the good news," Long said, "is that nearly three-quarters of the students reported that in the last six months they have talked to their parents about dating. Not necessarily about dating abuse, but about dating. Which means the door is open for parents t
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