Teens who batter, girls and boys, are often childhood bullies.

Abuse from teens who batter and bully.


Teens Who Batter and Bully. Do children outgrow bullying? Does this type of battering behavior carry-over into dating? Do childhood bullies go on to become teen-aged batterers?

Philip W. Cook

Bullying is not something children outgrow. In fact, bullies can turn into teen batterers with violent dating and relationships.

Teen battering and abuse is not limited to boys battering girls. In about an equal number of cases, girls batter the boys, also.

Many parents assume that bullying violence is something most kids grow out of as they grow older except for gang activity and the like. Unfortunately, that is not the case. In a scientific survey published in the prestigious journal Social Work, researchers found that one in four of the juniors and seniors in high school had experienced actual violence (not just threats) in their dating relationships.

In this particular survey published in 1996, the students came from mostly middle-class backgrounds.

The researchers also reviewed other studies and found a remarkable consistency in how often teen dating violence occurs and who is doing it, regardless of family background. They found that an "equal number of boys and girls experienced as well as initiated abuse." This finding may be particularly surprising to parents and to educators as well. Many schools conduct domestic violence awareness programs these days, but in almost all of these programs instructors contend that 95% of the time it is only boys who are violent in dating relationships. This is far from the truth.

By failing to discourage violence started by girls against their boyfriends, such programs only encourage reciprocal violence by their male dates. The Social Work researchers, Nona O’Keeffe, Karen Brockopp, and Esther Chew, think they know why dating teenage girls are as violent as boys: "Unlike older women in violent relationships, teenage girls have less at stake materially and emotionally and may therefore be more willing to take greater risks with their relationships. These findings may also indicate that future generations of women are more likely to participate equally in all aspects of their relationships, including violence." Parents then, need to be more aware of the high incidence of school bullying at the lower grade levels, and they also need to be more aware of the high levels of teen dating violence. It also means that it isn’t just "Sam" who needs to be told that it isn’t right to hit girls, or other boys, but "Samantha" needs to hear this as well.

Philip W. Cook is the author of Abused Men-The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence (Praeger/Greenwood Publishing).

Additional information about abuse or being abused.

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