Relatively little is known about the prevalence of physical dating violence behaviors and perceived norms about dating violence among early adolescents. A sample of 5,404 sixth-grade students was recruited from four diverse U.S. sites. Over half of the respondents reported that girls hitting their boyfriends was acceptable under certain circumstances (e.g., if made mad or jealous) and more than one in four reported acceptance of boys hitting their girlfriends. Among those reporting that they had a recent boy/girlfriend, nearly one third of girls (31.5%) and more than one fourth of boys (26.4%) reported being physically aggressive toward this person (e.g., punching, slapping). These data support the need to address the problem of violence within students’ perceived dating relationships in sixth grade or earlier and suggest that preventive interventions should focus on changing norms that support violence between males and females.
Physical dating violence norms and behavior among 6th-grade students from four U.S. sites