Above all thought, children are linked to adults by the simple fact that they are in process of turning into them.
(Phillip Larkin, (1922-1986, British Poet)
The Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994. The United States Department of Justice has created an Office on Violence Against Women. The Violence Against Women Network (VAWnet) and the National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women, (emphasis added) are funded through a cooperative agreement with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is housed within the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence http://www.vawnet.org/. Clearly, as their websites document the majority of domestic violence organizations institutionally ignore or minimize female offending and male victimization http://tinyurl.com/agnmcp.
Parroting domestic violence organizations, the majority of school and college dating violence interventions focus exclusively or primarily on the victimization of girls and young women http://tinyurl.com/ydq3y4w. This female victimization focus has created an implicit dating violence gender bias among interveners and researchers. Please visit Project Implicit to better understand how prejudicial associations and unconscious biases can be formed through constant and consistent stereotypical presentations by public and private dating violence interventions http://tinyurl.com/y96ktd2.
The VAWnet report, â€œTeen Dating Violence: A Review of Risk Factors and Prevention Efforts (Oâ€™Keefe, 2005),â€ similar to the college dating violence report, focuses exclusively or primarily on the victimization of high school girls http://tinyurl.com/br5w7z Stereotypical gender associations, male are assertive and aggressive while females are passive and docile, renders many dating violence interveners unable or unwilling to acknowledge female offending and male victimization. Hence, attitudes and beliefs become realities to many interveners and researchers. And as demonstrated here, some researchers misinterpret their own data.
The author of the above VAWnet report, Maura Oâ€™Keefe, does acknowledge that the majority of dating violence studies consistently indicates that non-sexual violence in dating relationships is mutual. In fact, Oâ€™Keefe agrees that most studies document girls or young women initiate more physical assaults than boys or young men. However, Oâ€™Keefe claims the fundamental problems of those studies are that:
(1) The studies do not address the â€œconsequencesâ€ or â€œcontextâ€ of the violence;
(2) Girls are injured more than boys,
(3) Girls fear for their safety more than boys,
(4) Girls are emotionally hurt more than boys,
(5) Girls and boys have different motivations and,
(6) Girls most often act in self-defense.
The above data does document that the consequences of dating violence are feared and suffered more by girls and young women than boys and young men. However, if it is the intent of interveners to prevent or minimize victimization, it is vitally important that interveners recognize that injury, fear, and emotional suffering are the effects or the consequences of dating violence and not the cause. Most dating violence studies document that the reasons given by students for their behavior are jealousy, anger, verbal aggression and being the victim of physical aggression. Both males and females display these behaviors. Hence, these behaviors are the prevalent causal factors that interveners must address.
Because females are more likely to suffer physically and psychologically from dating violence female offending can not be viewed as â€œharmlessâ€ minor assaults. Reams of studies clearly document that both males and females equally engage in dating violence. Physical assaults, regardless of how minor interveners believe they are, increase the probability that the assaults are likely to persist or escalate in severity http://tinyurl.com/ydas3l4. Hence, female offending and male victimization must be addressed.
There is universal agreement that for prevention programs to be successful prevention programs must place the cause before the consequence. Placing cause before consequence can effectively minimize or prevent the negative consequence. However, to be successful it is important that dating violence interventions have a gender-neutral focus and be inclusive of both the victimization of girls and young women and boys and young men http://tinyurl.com/clqvh9.
Many interveners continue to believe that boys and girls use violence for very different reasons. Boys use violence because they are jealous, angry and want to control their girlfriends. They also believe that girls and young women are most often passive, docile and primarily use violence in dating relationships in self-defense. Most interveners continue to stress that if surveys and studies would examine the context and circumstances of dating relationships and not just document the physical assault, the data will refute the reams of studies that document girls and boys mutually abuse each other http://tinyurl.com/yehe9z7 .
Power and Control Issues
Dating violence circumstances and context are documented in The Teen Relationship Abuse Survey (TRAS) http://tinyurl.com/fdvup sponsored by Liz Claiborne Inc. On page 3 it notes, â€œ[P]ower and control actions and attitudes are pervasive in teen relationships â€“ many young people have dealt with a boyfriend or girlfriend who tried to control their whereabouts.â€ The survey asks if the boys or girls had partners who want to know:
Ã˜ Who were they with all the time, 32% of boys and 39% of girls responded yes.
Ã˜ Where they were all the time, 31% of boys and 35% of girls responded yes.
Ã˜ Tried to tell them what to do a lot, 33% of boys and 31% of girls responded yes.
Ã˜ Asked them to only spend time with him/her, 24% of boys and 24% of girls responded yes.
Ã˜ Tried to prevent them from spending time with family or friends, 22% of boys and 21% of girls responded yes.
The TRAS documents more similarities than differences except for serious relationships. The TRAS, on page 4, reports there are greater differences in â€œseriousâ€ as compared with â€œnon-seriousâ€ relationships. However, the TRAS provides no definitional distinction between a â€œserious and non-seriousâ€ relationship. That important distinction is left open for the respondents to define and assign to themselves. The majority of dating violence studies suggest that females romanticize their relationships and take their relationships more seriously than males.
On page 15 the TRAS explores relationships between boys and girls who have endured emotional abuse from their partner.
Ã˜ 59% of boys and 64% of girls report that their partner made them feel bad or embarrassed about themselves.
Ã˜ 28% of boys and 26% of girls report that their partner called them names or put them down.
Ã˜ 8% of boys and 10% of girls report that their partner became physically or verbally abusive when drunk or high.
In the 2005 VAWnet report Oâ€™Keefe, implies but does not empirically document that girls primarily use physical assaults in self defense. Oâ€™Keefe in her own studies provides no empirical evidence-based data that documents girls actually reported that they used their violence primarily in self defense.
On page 562 of, Predictors of dating violence among high school students, (Oâ€™Keefe, 1997), she suggests that â€œâ€¦ it is also possible that females may inflict more violence than males in self-defense or in retaliation for sexual assaults.â€ However, the fact is that respondents in her survey did not report that their assaultive behavior was in self defensive or used in retaliation of a sexual assault. Suggestions, possibilities and maybes are not empirical findings. Somehow the intuitively held beliefs of Oâ€™Keefe have taken precedence over her empirical evidence.
On page 563, (Oâ€™Keefe, 1997), â€œWhereas being a victim of dating violence was a stronger predictor for females compared with males suggesting (emphasis) added) that females are more likely than males to hit in self-defense or retaliation.â€ Oâ€™Keefe in her 2005 VAWnet paper cites (Foshee, 1996) but Oâ€™Keefe does not acknowledge in her 2005 VAWnet paper that the Foshee study actually documents that even when controlling for violence perpetrated in self-defense girls perpetrate more dating violence than boys.
The Oâ€™Keefe, 1997 study documents that girls, for their own safety, need to realize that their initiation of dating violence and that their use of minor physical assaults are risk factors that place them in danger of injury and emotional harm http://tinyurl.com/nrgvna Interveners must acknowledge those risk factors if the intent of dating violence interventions are to prevent or minimize victimization.
In the VAWnet report, Oâ€™Keefe claims that girls and boys have different motivations for their use of physical assaults. However, Oâ€™Keefe reports on page 14 of a study that she co-authored, â€œVictims of Dating Violence Among High School Students (Oâ€™Keefe & Treister, 1998), that:
Also, of interest is the finding of no gender differences in the amount of interpersonal control exhibited by males and females in dating relationships, suggesting that interpersonal control may not be gender-specific and that despite womenâ€™s subordinate position in the larger social structure, they are just as likely to act to control their dating partner (italics added).
The U.S. Department of Justice sponsored report, Violence Against Women: Synthesis of Research for Secondary School Officials http://tinyurl.com/clqvh9 , should be read by interveners and school officials before they consider implementing dating violence educational programs http://tinyurl.com/clqvh9 . Interventions that ignore or minimize the victimization of boys and excuse or minimize the offending of girls need to understand that those beliefs and behaviors may, without intent, place both girls and boys in greater not less danger of dating violence victimization.
How To Get More Boys and Young Men Involved
The CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly reports that in 2003, 8.9% of boys and 8.8% of girls report being a victim of physical dating abuse http://tinyurl.com/kpbb6p. The CDC 2007 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly reports that while the percentage of victimization remained the same for girls at 8.8%, victimization for boys increased to 11.0% http://tinyurl.com/ylmlx5s Perhaps this increase is due, at least in part, to dating violence programs that continue to ignore or minimize female offending and male victimization.
Most interveners agree that to end dating and domestic violence both boys and men need to become more involved. I believe that many boys and men avoid the problems of dating and domestic violence because males are most often presented by interveners as being the problem.
If you are reading this in hard copy print you may use the individual tinyurl hyperlinks I have cited to to read a specific paper or article or you may use this URL http://tinyurl.com/ydsnkd4 to read my complete paper online at www.gather.com. Either way I suggest you read they hyperlinked papers and articles I have provided for you before you contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or comments.