Teenaged Girls and Dating Related Violence

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An article in the NYT entitled “Killings Prompt Efforts to Spot and Reduce Abuse of Teenagers in Dating” [Note on January 4th: That WAS the title when I blogged this yesterday, but this morning the title has been changed to “A Rise in Efforts to Spot Abuse in Youth Dating”] acknowledges, but only tacitly, that girls are overwhelming the victims of boys. It mentions several cases of boys killing girls they were dating. And it comes very close to blaming the victims, in passages like this:

“Few adolescents understand what a healthy relationship looks like,”Dr. Miller said.
Adolescents often mistake the excessive attention of boys as an expression of love, she said.

And this:

Many teenagers, Ms. Berry said,”see the jealousy and protectiveness as ‘Oh, he loves me so much.’ Girls make excuses for it and don’t realize it’s not about love, but it’s about controlling you as a possession.”

Meanwhile, the violent boys are depicted as victims of societal conditioning, as evidenced by this excerpt:

While texting that runs to 200 or 300 messages a day can be a prelude to abusive behavior, William S. Pollack, a Harvard University psychologist and the author of”Real Boys”(1998) and”Real Boys’ Voices”(2000) about boys and masculinity, said his research had found that”usually when adolescent boys get involved with girls, they fall into the societal model which we call ‘macho,’ where they need to show they are the ones in control.”

The sheer number of girls who are physically abused and killed by boys in a dating related context seems to make the phenomena less visible than other kinds of targeted violence. The headline for this article should have specified that its topic was the killing and abuse of GIRLS. The NYT was wrong to de-emphasize the gendered nature of the violent acts the article highlights.

–Ann Bartow

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