Friends May Help Teens Date Safely
Teen Dating Tends to Be Safer When the Girl Stays Involved With Her Circle of Friends
Sept. 21, 2007 -- When teenage girls date, their circle of friends may help
them keep those dating relationships safe, a new study shows.
But if a teenage girl withdraws from her social circle while dating, she may
miss out on the circle's support and guidance, which could put her in a riskier
That's according to researcher Sharyl Toscano, PhD, RN, FNP, of the
University of Vermont's College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
Toscano interviewed 20 teenage girls aged 15-18 at two high schools in
Suffolk and Middlesex counties in Massachusetts. All of the girls were dating
or had dated in the past.
In the interviews, Toscano asked the girls about their relationships with
boys and with their friends.
Each girl typically had a group of female friends that socialized with a
group of teenage boys. The girls' and boys' groups together created a
"circle" of friends.
Those circles set informal standards for social behavior, including
Typically, the girls and boys met and got acquainted through their circle,
then went on group dates with other circle members, and then dated on their own
before re-entering the circle as a couple. The teens tended to stay in their
circles even after breaking up.
Teens were more likely to report abuse (mainly emotional abuse, but also
physical and verbal abuse) when they were isolated from their circle.
The teens' circle was enormously important in setting standards for the
dating process -- more so than their school, family, and community groups,
Of course, each circle had its own standards -- some were more permissive
than others -- and despite being circles, the teens weren't always certain of
what qualified as abuse.
Being in a circle of friends doesn't totally prevent abuse in teen
But essentially, Toscano finds that a teenage girls' best chance of having a
safe dating experience -- or getting out of an abusive relationship -- was to
stick with the friends she'd had before her dating relationship began.
Toscano recommends that future studies include teenage boys and a more
diverse group of teenage girls, since most of the girls in this study were
Her study appears in the online journal BMC Nursing.
(What do you think of your
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