Highlighted at Instapundit:
Girls commit dating violence as often as boys, studies show. “More girls – 43 percent – than boys – 28 percent – reported committing an act of physical dating violence, said researchers who are presenting their findings beginning Wednesday at the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting.”
That certainly would be a finding of interest, so I clicked on the link, which goes to an NBC report on the study with the headline “Girls commit dating violence as often as boys, studies show.” The lede repeated the idea: “Girls are the perpetrators of some form of dating violence nearly as often as boys, surprising new studies show.”
But when readers get to the article’s fourth paragraph (if they ever get there at all), this is what they find:
The study looked at a spectrum of behaviors, ranging from name calling and expressing anger, spreading rumors, and using controlling behaviors such as keeping track of dating partners, to physical violence such as slapping, hitting and biting, and sexual violence including forced kissing. Taken as a whole, one in three reported being the victim of at least one of the behaviors on that spectrum.
While most of us may not rank name-calling, or bad-mouthing another to their friends as “violence,” the researchers say they included the psychological and relationship tactics because they can have a profound impact.
So the study actually seems to have looked at dating meanness, or maybe we should call it “dating behavior that’s not ideal, and could hurt somebody’s feelings.” But if the headline had been “Girls commit dating meanness as often as boys, studies show,” it wouldn’t be getting much attention, would it? Girls, name-calling? Whoever would have thunk it?
Look, women are no angels. In my own life, it’s been my observation that women perpetrate a great deal of the world’s nastiness, as do men, and I’d be hard-pressed to say who comes out ahead if we tote it all up. So you won’t find a lot of posts at this blog (actually, I don’t think you’ll find any posts at this blog) lauding women’s innocence and superiority in the world and in relationships, because I don’t see women that way at all.
But I’d like facts to be reported correctly (I know; dream on). And if a study defines relationship “violence” as almost anything, psychological or otherwise, that hurts a person’s feelings, then “violence” has become practically meaningless as a word and as a concept.
This study has gotten a lot of press, and I have yet to find an article about it that is any more forthcoming than that NBC one. Some are considerably less informative, not even mentioning the weird way “violence” is defined by the study. Even the APA release is mum on the subject. And I have yet to find a link to the entire study, which I’d really have to read to get a clearer picture.
This study and the press coverage of it is hardly an isolated example. One common denominator I’d imagine is often operating is researchers’ need to get more money to study whatever is their specialty. So in this case, my guess would be that finding lots of “violence” would be to their advantage. And publicity—with headlines such as this one that call the levels of teen violence found as “shocking”—probably help immeasurably in that endeavor.