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Teen dating violence

Project selected in the Social Research Call 2021 (LCF/PR/SR21/52560016)

Noemí Pereda, Marta Codina and Diego A. Díaz-Faes, Universitat de Barcelona

Teen dating violence is exerted via three main channels: a) control, limiting a partner’s contact with other people by monitoring his or her phone, for example; b) physical assault, including hitting, kicking and other kinds of aggression, and c) sexual assault, forcing unwanted sex. This violence can seriously affect teenagers’ mental and physical health, and also their personal development and social integration. With the aim of assessing the prevalence of self-reported violence, from the perspective of both victimisation and perpetration, a representative sample of 4,004 Spanish adolescents aged between 14 and 17 was employed, with the application of an instrument that is widely used internationally.
Key points
  • 1
       In Spain, the overall results for the past year show that the prevalence rate of violence victimisation within relationships among teenagers stands at 13.6% (girls: 16.9%; boys: 10.5%). In contrast, the rate of perpetration is 4.8% (girls: 6.6%; boys: 3.1%).
  • 2
       By type of violence, 10.1% report that they are victims of controlling behaviours (girls: 13.3%; boys: 7.1%). In turn, 4.1% see themselves as victims of physical assault (girls: 3.6%; boys: 4.5%) and 4.3% of sexual assault (girls: 6.6%; boys: 2.1%).
  • 3
       Regarding the prevalence of perpetration, controlling behaviours are observed in 3.0% of teenagers (girls: 4.2%; boys: 1.9%); physical assault in 2.2% (girls: 3.3%; boys: 1.1%), and sexual assault in 0.6% (girls: 0.3%; boys: 0.9%).
  • 4
       The percentage of teenagers who report having been both victims and perpetrators in an intimate relationship during the past year is 2.9% (girls: 4.0%; boys: 1.8%).
  • 5
       Ultimately, the results suggest that girls suffer more victimisation through control and sexual assault than boys. As regards the types of violence perpetrated, girls report more control and physical assault on their partners than boys. It is also observed that girls are more likely than boys to play the overlapping role of victim and perpetrator in their intimate relationships. These results show the complexity of a problem that calls for an in-depth analysis of violence in teen relationships.
  • 6
       This snapshot of teen dating violence is crucial for designing effective prevention policies. For this reason, research is also being conducted on the situation of the most vulnerable adolescents, i.e., those who belong to risk groups, have some disability, or suffer from mental health problems.
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