They may all be sugar and spice — but “everything nice” is debatable with a new study showing that girls are more likely than boys to be the perpetrators of teen dating violence. It’s data that most will find counterintuitive, but it accords with earlier research indicating that women are more likely than men to initiate domestic violence.
As for the recent study, Study Finds reports that
recently published research indicates boys are more likely to report being victims of dating violence committed by partners who hit, slap or push them.
Researchers with the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Simon Fraser University (SFU) conducted a longitudinal study of dating violence. While reports of physical abuse went down over time, they say there is a troubling gender-related trend.
Five percent of teens reported physical abuse from their dating partners in 2013, down from 6 percent in 2003. But in the last year, 5.8 percent of boys reported dating violence compared to 4.2 percent of girls.
... Researchers looked at data collected from three British Columbia Adolescent Health Surveys conducted over a 10-year timespan. Participants were 35,900 students in grades 7 through 12 who were in dating relationships.
This problem may only worsen with the familiarity that breeds contempt, as people enter into more serious couples’ relationships. As Sophie Goodchild reported in a 2000 Guardian piece on a study showing that women were actually more likely to initiate domestic violence:
The study ... is based on an analysis of 34,000 men and women by a British academic. Women lash out more frequently than their husbands or boyfriends, concludes John Archer, professor of psychology at the University of Central Lancashire and president of the International Society for Research on Aggression.
... Professor Archer analysed data from 82 US and UK studies on relationship violence, dating back to 1972. He also looked at 17 studies based on victim reports from 1,140 men and women.... [H]e said that female aggression was greater in westernised women because they were “economically emancipated” and therefore not afraid of ending a relationship.
While this may be a factor, it’s neither the only nor main one. First, as Study Finds also informs on the teen-violence study, “‘It could be that it’s still socially acceptable for girls to hit or slap boys in dating relationships,’ says lead author Catherine Shaffer, a PhD student with SFU.” She points out that research on adolescents in other nations found the same results.
Actually, though, there’s no “could be” about it. Despite the ongoing assault on tradition, boys are still raised with the idea that “you don’t hit girls.” But there was never a no-hitting-boys proscription; moreover, feminism has eliminated the corresponding social constraint, “Girls don’t hit at all.”
(While not scientific, the little social experiment in the video below does reflect the typical Western boy’s attitude toward hitting girls. Besides, the cuteness factor makes it worth watching!)
Yet there’s more to it still. As I wrote in 2014 about domestic abuse, “Other observers point out that some women will take advantage of domestic-violence laws and procedures, knowing that if a man they assault retaliates, calling the police will generally result in the onus being placed on him.”
This is true in teen dating as well. Boys and girls both usually know that male violence is more likely to bring consequences.
Then there’s the reality that this is all part and parcel of a decades-long rise in female violence in general. The increase in the rate of girls’ juvenile delinquency has surpassed that of boys for decades now — including in the area of violent offenses. As research group The Future of Children reported, “Between 1985 and 2002, the overall number of delinquency cases for girls increased 92 percent.”
Why is this happening? While the overall breakdown in morality plays a role, it doesn’t explain why female violence has increased relative to male violence. But certain toxic forces do, as I also reported in 2014:
For starters, while feminist doctrine impugns masculinity, it has quite paradoxically cast many male norms (and even vices) as a gold standard to be embraced by girls seeking true emancipation. Thus have females been encouraged to be lustful in the name of “sexual liberation”; thus have they been fed “girl power” messages stressing assertiveness; and thus have they been exposed to masculinized female characters on TV who model violent behavior, fighting like — and usually with — men. Being ladylike is viewed today as existence in a patriarchal pillory.
Then there’s the Bonnie and Clyde factor. Dr. Ann Hagell, who co-authored a major study on anti-social behavior, points out that while youth of yesteryear socialized mainly in single-sex groups, girls today “come into contact with boys who provide the temptation” to violence, wrote the BBC. As psychologist and author Elie Godsi put it, “There's a lot more of a 'ladette' culture where young women are aping and mimicking the traditional behaviour young men engage in.” (This lends support to the thesis that girls are imbibing the feminist conception of male behavior as gold standard.) Related to this is that some girls admit to engaging in violence for the same reason boys often do: to impress others — in the girls’ case, older boys.
The bottom line is that one major difference between male and female violence is that the former is simply more visible — and showcased. This reflects how characteristic male sin is more obvious than characteristic female sin, with, respectively, lust and vanity being good examples.
This is a good thing to bear in mind in this anti-male #MeToo age. To use a twist on a Frédéric Bastiat line, a bad social analyst notes only what can be seen; a good social analyst notes both the seen and the unseen.
Photo: Elisaveta Ivanova/iStock/Getty Images Plus