New study finds teen boys report more dating violence than girls

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New research from SFU and UBC reveals that more teen boys reported being slapped, pushed or physically hurt on purpose from their dating partners than girls.

Researchers found that 5.8 per cent of boys and 4.2 per cent of girls reported experiencing dating violence in the past year. SFU PhD student Catherine Shaffer, who was involved in the study says more research is needed to understand why the numbers are higher for boys.

Shaffer says people need to talk to youth about dating violence before it can develop. For example, “how to deal with anger and jealousy, communicate with a dating partner and treat others with respect. It’s also important that we speak to youth and let them know that violence is never acceptable in a dating relationship.”

Overall, fewer teens are reporting experiencing physical abuse from their partners — five per cent or one in 20 students in 2013 down from six per cent in 2003.

Shaffer says the overall decline is positive, suggesting that healthy relationship programs are having an impact on youth, but more can be done. “Dating violence prevention should be on the agenda for research and policymakers.”

Elizabeth Saewyc, senior study author and UBC nursing professor, says the results show that there is a need for more support programs for both boys and girls in dating relationships. “Health-care providers, parents and caregivers, schools and others can protect teens from dating violence by helping them define what healthy relationships looks like, even before their first date.”

The study is the first in Canada to look at adolescent dating violence trends over time and the first in North America to compare trends for boys and girls.

The study analyzed results from the B.C. Adolescent Health Surveys involving 35,900 Grade 7 to 12 students who were in dating relationships.

B.C. Adolescent Health Surveys are conducted every five years by the McCreary Centre Society — a community-based non-profit organization that does research on adolescent health in B.C.

Results were published recently in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

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Melissa is a reporter at Vancouver Is Awesome and has worked primarily in radio and online media. She grew up in Ontario, went to school in Halifax and worked in Northern B.C. before moving to Vancouver. If you've got a story to share email: melissa@vancouverisawesome.com