Cyber dating abuse can be a problem even among sixth graders, a new study finds.
History of bullying
A survey of 424 Texas students in grade 6 found that 15 percent admitted they had committed at least one type of cyber abuse toward a dating partner.
The most common forms of abuse were using a dating partner's social networking account without permission and making a dating partner afraid of not responding to calls or messages, according to the researchers.
Students most likely to commit cyber dating abuse were those who had a previous history of bullying and those who thought it was normal for boys to be violent against girls.
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"We still don't know if cyber dating abuse is really a distinct form of dating violence or if it's just dating violence being perpetrated through a new avenue. The literature has shown that there's a lot of overlap," said study author Melissa Peskin.
Reducing dating violence
Peskin is an associate professor in the department of health promotion and behavioural sciences at the University of Texas Health Science Centre, in Houston.
"In this study, we did find that many of the factors associated with cyber dating abuse are also factors associated with traditional forms of dating violence," she added in a university news release.
"We need interventions that focus on reducing dating violence but that also include lessons on how to have healthy relationships in the online environment," Peskin said.
The study was published recently in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.
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