Being a parent of a middle school student has given me a lot ot worry about: drugs, sex and violence.  As a parent, I realize that we must start early if we are to prevent dating violence. Yet, many dating violence prevention efforts address high school students, but the pattern of violence often starts before then.  In an article recently published in the Journal of Early Adolescence, 60% of 6th grade males and 45% of  6th grade females (45.2%)  reported having a boy or girlfriend in previous 3 months. Among those students reporting having a boy/girlfriend, almost 1/3 of girls and more than ¼ of boys reported being physically aggressive toward their boy/girlfriend.
Teen dating violence prevention efforts like Start Strong highlight working with middle school age youth. It seems to me even more important now than ever to start early.
Note: The instrument used to measure the levels of violence was modified from the instrument used to evaluate Safe Dates.  I have trouble reconciling the finding that males are more likely than females to be victimized.  What do you think is going on?
Here is the full citation and link the article on the journal’s web site.
Physical Dating Violence Norms and Behavior Among Sixth-Grade Students From Four U.S. Sites.
Simon TR, Miller S, Gorman-Smith D, Orpinas P, Sullivan T. Journal of Early Adolescence 2010; 30(3): 395-409.
Click here for a link to the article on the journal’s web site.
(Copyright © 2010, Sage Publications)
Relatively little is known about the prevalence of physical dating violence behaviors and perceived norms about dating violence among early adolescents. A sample of 5,404 sixth-grade students was recruited from four diverse U.S. sites. Over half of the respondents reported that girls hitting their boyfriends was acceptable under certain circumstances (e.g., if made mad or jealous) and more than one in four reported acceptance of boys hitting their girlfriends. Among those reporting that they had a recent boy/ girlfriend, nearly one third of girls (31.5%) and more than one fourth of boys (26.4%) reported being physically aggressive toward this person (e.g., punching, slapping). These data support the need to address the problem of violence within students’ perceived dating relationships in sixth grade or earlier and suggest that preventive interventions should focus on changing norms that support violence between males and females.