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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Online Dating Aggression Linked To Community Violence, Michigan Study Finds

We have seen the headlines about young people being bullied by boyfriends or girlfriends through digital means such as the Internet and smartphones.

Now, University of Michigan research conducted through the School of Public Health’s Michigan Youth Violence Center—part of the department of health behavior and health education—finds that technology-delivered dating aggression is associated with the environment in which some youth are growing up, and with the likelihood that these behaviors will lead to physical dating violence.

Technology-delivered dating aggression is exhibited in ways such as trying to control a partner’s behavior, tracking his or her activities and location, delivering threats, spreading rumors, or sharing explicit images of the partner without permission. It goes beyond cyber aggression, which usually takes place online, to include harassing phone calls and texts.

“We found that technology-delivered dating aggression, or TDA, was prevalent among high-risk urban youth, and that it was highly associated with neighborhood violence exposure—for example, hearing gunshots, seeing drug deals, seeing someone get shot or stabbed. It was also very strongly related to physical dating violence,” said lead researcher Dr. Quyen Epstein-Ngo, a research assistant professor at the U-M Institute for Research on Women and Gender and a fellow with the U-M Injury Center.

“This study shows that TDA is related to physical dating aggression and may be a precursor to or a symptom of serious physical violence among dating partners. Not everyone who committed TDA also perpetrated physical violence, but nearly everyone who perpetrated physical violence also committed TDA. More research is needed to better understand this association.”

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