Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Are Girls Responsible for Dating Violence?

Two recent articles in The New York Times and the Boston Globe have reported on youth violence, specifically dating violence. While the articles describe efforts being made to prevent this violence, a recent commentary notes how they are based on gender-stereotypes and hold girls responsible for stopping it.

"This seems to be the thread running through both of these recent stories: that we still live in a country where gender stereotypes (men are violent and uncontrollable, women are passive and responsible) in collusion with systemic invisibility, lead us to continue making the same ineffective interventions. Our short-sightedness and sexism is, in itself, a sort of violence. It prevents us from empowering the next generation to live better, more peaceful lives," writes Courtney E. Martin.

Statistics on dating violence have shown the degree to which the problem is both troubling and urgent. According to a study from The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, more than one-third of the 920 students questioned were victims of emotional and physical abuse by romantic partners before they started college. Similarly, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found an increase in dating violence by more than 40 percent since 1999.

"But what about the young men? Do we really think teenage boys so depraved that they can't respond to an education on emotional management or be asked to take responsibility for preventing and ending interpersonal violence?" Martin writes.

To read the full commentary, click here. What do you think? Weigh in!

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