JOURNAL ARTICLE

Physical and psychological aggression in dating relationships of Spanish adolescents: motives and consequences

Andres A Fernández-Fuertes, Antonio Fuertes
Child Abuse & Neglect 2010, 34 (3): 183-91
20207002

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of the study was to examine three aspects of romantic relationships of Spanish adolescents: the prevalence of verbal-emotional and physical aggressive behaviors, correlates of dating violence perpetration (both verbal-emotional and physical aggression), and consequences of violence for victims' well-being.

METHOD: A convenience sample of 567 participants (15-19 years old) who voluntarily completed anonymous, self-report questionnaires was used. All were students from 5 public high schools in Salamanca, Spain.

RESULTS: Females reported having perpetrated significantly more aggressive acts in their intimate relationships than males did, although the magnitude of differences between both groups was small; in contrast, no sex differences were noted in the frequency of aggressions suffered by adolescents. A strong relationship was observed between the perpetration and victimization of both verbal-emotional and physical aggression across genders. A strong link was observed between jealousy and aggression perpetration (both verbal-emotional and physical). Finally, verbal-emotional aggression represented the most common form of aggressive behavior used at these ages, and relationship deterioration was the most frequent consequence of arguments.

CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrate that the use of abusive behaviors in adolescent dating relationships is prevalent in Spain. Sex differences were evident in the perpetration of aggression, as well as some of the motivations for, and the effects of, dating violence.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: The present study underlines the need for early intervention programs aimed at decreasing any tolerance for the use of violence in dating relationships of Spanish adolescents. Such programs should include both victimization-based and perpetration-based activities, since the evidence on the relatively mutual nature of dating violence in adolescence points in this direction.

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