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How parents can help curb youth dating violence

Children whose parents talk to them about non-violent ways of resolving conflict are less likely to physically or psychologically abuse their dating partners later, says a study.

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"Youths may be getting a mixture of both violent and non-violent solutions from their parents, but in our study it was those non-violent messages that really protected kids from perpetrating violence in their romantic relationships," said lead researcher Rachel Garthe from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the US.
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For the study, published in the Journal of Adolescence, the team surveyed a random sample of more than 1,000 6th, 7th and 8th grade students in the US about their parents' views on handling conflict.

The assessment included questions such as whether the child's parents condoned fighting as long as another person started it, or if their parents urged them to stay calm or walk away if another person said something disrespectful to them.

The findings showed that the majority of the students - ranging from 82-88 per cent - reported receiving a mixture of parental messages that endorsed peaceful as well as aggressive means of handling disputes.

In addition, the participants were asked if they had engaged in some forms of physical violence such as shoving their romantic partner and psychological aggression such as intentionally provoking jealousy in their boyfriend or girlfriend.
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As many as 35 to 45 per cent of the students indicated that they had committed at least one act of physical or psychological aggression against a boyfriend or girlfriend.

The prevalence of dating violence among the students surveyed was high, said Garthe.

But the results suggested that promoting parental support for nonviolent responses to conflict may protect youths from perpetrating dating violence.

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