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Study: Young Boys Are More Likely to Have Experienced Digital Dating Abuse Than Young Girls

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Feb 26, 2020

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Digital dating abuse is using technology to “repetitively harass a romantic partner with the intent to control, coerce, intimidate, annoy or threaten them.” And according to a recent study, more than a quarter of U.S. teens who are or have been in romantic relationships over the previous year have been victims of at least some form of digital dating abuse.

The research, published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, also stated that young boys were found to be more likely to have experienced digital dating abuse. They were also more likely to suffer physical aggression, as an escalation of digital abuse.

While researchers are not clear precisely why, they have a hypothesis. “Specific to heterosexual relationships, girls may use more violence on their boyfriends to try to solve their relational problems, while boys may try to constrain their aggressive impulses when trying to negotiate discord with their girlfriends,” Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice within Florida Atlantic University, said in a statement.


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From a sample size of more than 2,000 students from the U.S., aged 12 to 17 years old, more than one-fourth had dealt with situations like their partner looking through their digital devices, taking away access to devices, threatening them via private messaging, publicly posting content to make fun of them, threaten or humiliate them, and posting private photos of them without permission.

Around 33% of boys experienced such abuse, as compared to around 24% of girls. An overwhelming majority of the students interviewed were both targets of digital as well as offline, physical abuse. Students victimized offline were 18 times more likely to have experienced online abuse.

“Gaining a deeper understanding of the emotional and psychological mindset and the situational circumstances of current-day adolescents may significantly inform the policy and practice we need to develop to address this form and all forms of dating abuse,” added Hinduja.

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Written By Aditi Murti

Aditi Murti is the senior culture writer at The Swaddle, with an interest in cultural analysis, environment, and the science of mental health.  Write to her using aditi@theswaddle.com, or find her on social media @aditimurti.

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