How Often does Stalking and Harassment Occur in Teen Relationships?

We’ve been aware for more than 30 years that stalking and harassment takes place frequently in adult romantic relationships. And while we’ve known that the same behaviors can take place teenage relationships, we never really knew how frequent those behaviors were.

Now, we have a better idea.

In a ground-breaking research study that comes out of Boston University School of Public Health, we learn that nearly half of U.S. teenagers have been stalked or harassed by a boyfriend or girlfriend – or actually done the harassing behavior themselves.

The findings of this study in the journal Youth & Society indicate that close to 50 % of youth between the ages of 12 and 18 have been in a relationship in which they have been stalked or harassed in some uncomfortable way. More than 40 % percent of young people have actually engaged in this behavior themselves.

Lead author of the study, Emily Rothman, professor of community health services at the Boston University School of Public Health, says that these numbers are unacceptably high. She points out that previous research suggests that harassing and stalking behavior, including destroying personal belongings or using social media accounts to harass, often lead to physical violence.

"Unfortunately, they are in line with estimates of similar problems like dating and sexual violence victimization, so they are both shocking and unsurprising at the same time," Rothman said in a university news release.

The study, titled “Prevalence of and Risk Markers for Dating Abuse–Related Stalking and Harassment Victimization and Perpetration in a Nationally Representative Sample of U.S. Adolescents,”  included 148 boys and 172 girls, aged 12 to 18, who were in relationships or had been in relationships in the past year. The teens were asked if a partner had ever followed or spied on them, damaged something of theirs, or gone through their online accounts. The youth were also asked if they had ever done any of these things to a partner. The results show that 46.5% of boys and nearly 51% of girls said they'd stalked or harassed a partner, and about 45% of boys and 51% of girls reported a partner doing these things to them.

The researchers looked at what factors may account for being either the victim or perpetrator of such behavior. Among boys, having worse relationships with parents and living in neighborhoods with higher rates of violent crime were associated with a higher chance of stalking or harassing a partner.

For girls, being in relationships at a younger age, living in neighborhoods with higher rates of violent crime, using marijuana and using alcohol were associated with a greater likelihood of both victimization and perpetration.

The findings show that dating abuse is shaped by forces larger than the individual, Rothman noted. "We know from intervention research that the way to prevent stalking and harassment, or sexual and dating violence, is partly about addressing how young people think about relationships, gender norms, and improving their social-emotional skills, but these are also influenced by the context in which they are operating," she said.

To read the source of this report, go to here.

Written by James Windell, MD

Share this post:

Comments on "How Often does Stalking and Harassment Occur in Teen Relationships?"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment