More than a third of teen guys and girls say they've been physically, emotionally or sexually abused in their dating relationships, according to new, unpublished data from a nationwide survey. Similar numbers of both sexes say they've been abusers.
Additional new research shows teens who abuse their girlfriends and boyfriends often share a past as middle-school bullies.
These findings, to be presented today in Honolulu at a meeting of the American Psychological Association, are the latest to shed light on a problem that has only come out of the shadows in recent years.
In the new nationwide survey, which included 1,058 youths ages 14 to 20, 41 percent of girls and young women and 37 percent of boys and young men said they had been victims of dating abuse; 35 percent of girls and 29 percent of boys said they had physically, emotionally or sexually abused a partner, according to a news release from the association. Girls were more likely to say they had physically abused their partners; boys were "much more likely" to say they had sexually abused someone, the association says. But it did not provide specific numbers on those differences.
The survey also found that 29 percent of girls and 24 percent of guys said they had been both victims and abusers, in the same or different relationships.
The new survey results are in the line with some other findings, says Carlos Cuevas, a researcher from Northeastern University-Boston, who is presenting new data on dating violence among Latino youth at the conference. But he says the details behind the gender findings in various studies are important. When girls are the aggressors, he says, "it tends to be low-level behaviors, light hitting, name calling, things like that. When you look at serious sexual and severe physical assault, we tend to see a bit more from the boys than the girls."