Teenagers Speak About Domestic Violence

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If there has been one good thing about the Chris Brown/Rihanna scandal, it has opened up discussion about domestic violence. Both the New York Times and the Boston Globe did articles on reactions that high school students had to the chris Brown Rihanna scandal.

From the Boston Globe

Yet 46 percent of the kids surveyed said that they thought Rihanna was to blame for the beating; 51 percent said Brown was at fault, and 52 percent said that both of them were somehow responsible. And, according to the survey, a significant number of males and females said Rihanna was now destroying Chris Brown’s career.

The two got back together, which, while horrifying to many parents, doesn’t seem to surprise many teenagers; 71 percent of respondents said that arguing is a normal part of a relationship, and 42 percent responded that fighting (presumably physically) was also normal.

From the New York Times

“I thought she was lying, or that the tabloids were making it up,” one girl said.

Even after they saw a photo of Rihanna’s bloodied, bruised face, which had raced across the Internet, they still defended Mr. Brown. “She probably made him mad for him to react like that,” the other ninth grader said. “You know, like, bring it on?”

Should he be punished? No, said the girls, whose names were withheld at the request of the school. After all, they said, Rihanna seemed to have reconciled with Mr. Brown.

“So he shouldn’t get into trouble if she doesn’t feel that way,” one girl said. “She probably feels bad that it was her fault, so she took him back.”
The girls’ willingness to minimize Mr. Brown’s alleged behavior also reflects a learned social signal, said Professor Morgan, who teaches African-American studies at Harvard. They’ve been taught, she said, “What really matters is that we don’t destroy boys.” Teenage girls think that if they speak out against an abuser, the boy’s future will be shattered, she said. “We have to appreciate that this is not simple for them.”

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