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According to the 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, approximately 10 percent of adolescents nationwide reported being the victim of physical violence at the hands of a romantic partner during the previous year.[1] The rate of psychological victimization is even higher: Between two and three in 10 reported being verbally or psychologically abused in the previous year, according to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.[2]As for perpetration rates, there are currently no nationwide estimates for who does the abusing, and state estimates vary significantly.

In South Carolina, for example, nearly 8 percent of adolescents reported being physically violent to a romantic partner.

We have already touched on the existing body of research on perpetration and victimization rates. Other studies have also found sex-based differences in rates of sexual victimization and perpetration in adolescent relationships (e.g., O'Keefe, M., "Adolescents' Exposure to Community and School Violence: Prevalence and Behavioral Correlates," 7 (2000): 1-4). This can include, for example, behavioral, biological, social and emotional changes.

Yet there is not a great deal of research that uses a longitudinal perspective or that considers the dynamics of teen romantic relationships. Although most research tends to indicate that more severe forms of physical violence are disproportionately experienced by girls, this is not a universal finding (O'Leary, K. [note 6] Giordano, P., "Recent Research on Gender and Adolescent Relationships: Implications for Teen Dating Violence Research/ Prevention," presentation at the U. Departments of Health and Human Services and Justice Workshop on Teen Dating Violence: Developing a Research Agenda to Meet Practice Needs, Crystal City, Va., December 4, 2007.

Some experts hold that men and women are mutually combative and that this behavior should be seen as part of a larger pattern of family conflict.

Supporters of this view generally cite studies that use "act" scales, which measure the number of times a person perpetrates or experiences certain acts, such as pushing, slapping or hitting.

Researchers later reviewed the tapes and identified acts of physical aggression that occurred between the boys and girls during the exercise.

They found that 30 percent of all the participating couples demonstrated physical aggression by both partners.

One difference between adolescent and adult relationships is the absence of elements traditionally associated with greater male power in adult relationships.[17] Adolescent girls are not typically dependent on romantic partners for financial stability, and they are less likely to have children to provide for and protect. Huebner, "Severe Dating Violence and Quality of Life Among South Carolina High School Students," 19 (2000): 220-227.

The study of seventh, ninth and 11th graders in Toledo, for example, found that a majority of the boys and girls who were interviewed said they had a relatively "equal say" in their romantic relationships. [note 4] National victimization prevalence estimates from a study of adolescents aged 12 to 17 years showed 0.6 percent for boys and 2.7 percent for girls.

Y., high school students who were currently dating.

In that 2007 survey, 66 percent of boys and 65 percent of girls who were involved in physically aggressive relationships reported mutual aggression.[7] Twenty-eight percent of the girls said that they were the sole perpetrator; 5 percent said they were the sole victim.

These studies tend to show that women report perpetrating slightly more physical violence than men.[12] It is interesting to note that most studies on teen dating violence that have been conducted to date have relied primarily on "act" scales.