Teens offer less support when peers disclose severe dating violence

Dec 04, 2007

Teens can turn to their friends for comfort when a relationship goes sour, but if it involves violence, their peers are less likely to help, a new study shows.

Their peers are more likely to be uncomfortable, change the subject and avoid the victim, according to analysis conducted by University of Michigan and Wayne State University researchers.

"Peers might feel threatened when hearing of severe violence because they might fear the abuser or might be reminded that they, too, are vulnerable to severe violence in their relationships," said Richard Tolman, the study's co-author and a professor in the U-M School of Social Work.

The study examined the responses to teens who disclosed dating violence or upsetting but non-violent experiences in their romantic relationships. The survey of 224 public high school students also asked about coping strategies and post-traumatic symptoms.

Adolescents were asked who they talked with about the situation: a friend, their boyfriend or girlfriend, a sibling, a parent, another family member or an adult in school, or no one at all. The study confirms previous research that adolescents are most likely to confide in friends, if they talked to anyone.

When boys disclosed less severe dating violence, their friends were more likely to minimize the situation. Girls, however, received more nurturing from their friends when they disclosed less violent situations.

"Given that the boys' reported emotional reactions reflected less distress than girls' reactions, it …may be that (friends) did not perceive the incidents to be as serious because of the boys' presentation," said Arlene Weisz, the lead author from the School of Social Work at Wayne State University.

Daniel Saunders, a co-author and professor in the U-M School of Social Work, said: "The victim's friends might have also responded differently based on what they are taught about the acceptability of males and females asking for help."

The researchers say the study suggests a need for prevention programs that give family and friends effective skills for responding to situations that involve victimized teens. Victims might also benefit from professional help because of the complexity of dating violence, the study stated.

Tolman and Weisz collaborated with Saunders, Beverly Black from Wayne State University, and Michelle Callahan of 360 Strategies in New York.

The findings appear in the recent issue of the Journal of Adolescence.

Source: University of Michigan

Explore further: Finding psychological insights through social media

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Canada looks east-west to ship oil after Keystone veto

2 hours ago

After US President Barack Obama vetoed a bill to expedite construction of the Keystone XL pipeline Tuesday, petroleum producers are expected to turn to Canadian routes to ship oil internationally, but hurdles ...

Internet access limited in developing world

3 hours ago

Most people in the developing world do not use the Internet, with access limited by high costs, poor availability and a lack of relevant content, a Facebook report said Tuesday.

Manhattan Project physicist Ralph Nobles dies at 94

3 hours ago

(AP)—Ralph Nobles, a nuclear physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project and later led efforts to save thousands of acres of San Francisco Bay wetlands from development, died following complications of pneumonia, according ...

In Japan, robot dogs are for life - and death

3 hours ago

Incense smoke wafts through the cold air of the centuries-old Buddhist temple as a priest chants a sutra, praying for the peaceful transition of the souls of the departed.

US sees little severe weather so far in 2015

3 hours ago

(AP)—While a big chunk of the nation deals with snow and ice, the U.S. is poised to end January and February with the fewest bouts of severe weather in decades.

Recommended for you

Finding psychological insights through social media

Feb 28, 2015

Social media has opened up a new digital world for psychology research. Four researchers will be discussing new methods of language analysis, and how social media can be leveraged to study personality, mental and physical ...

Aggressive boys tend to develop into physically stronger teens

Feb 27, 2015

Boys who show aggressive tendencies develop greater physical strength as teenagers than boys who are not aggressive, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Scienc ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

HarryStottle
4 / 5 (1) Dec 05, 2007
Similar effect is seen with bereavement. The victim is left to suffer alone because no one can think of anything to say which can ease the pain. Is this so surprising?
john41
not rated yet Aug 15, 2008
Perhaps this is another example of how we have let our kids be isolated among, and over-influenced by, their peers, rather than integrating them more closely with the adult community? The consequence of this is that value-judgements are made on the basis of the teenage group's morals, rather than on those of society as a whole.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.