By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“The ability to restrain oneself from acting on aggressive impulses is arguably a crucial aspect of human functioning and interaction. Yet growing evidence in the literature suggests that people’s self-control resources may be limited and, at times, self-controlled regulation could even increase the association between aggressive triggers and aggressive behaviour. As an alternative, mindfulness practices encourage individuals to be aware and accept their aggression-related thoughts and emotions simply as an ephemeral state rather than to control them.“ – Cleoputri Yusainy
Dating should be a time for young people to get together, get to know one another and have fun. But all too often, dating involves violence or aggression. Nearly 1.5 million high school students in the U.S. experience physical abuse from a dating partner each year, 33% are victims of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, and 10% have been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt. Dating violence doesn’t just occur in High School as 43% of college women experience violent or abusive dating behaviors. The abuse often occurs on-line as 36% of college students have given a dating partner their computer, email or social network passwords and these students are more likely to experience digital dating abuse sometimes called technology-delivered dating aggression (TDA). Sadly, only about a third of the victims ever tell anyone about the abuse.
Compounding the problem youth who experience dating violence are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, abuse tobacco, drugs, and alcohol, and consider suicide. Hence it is important to find ways to prevent dating violence. A first step is to investigate the factors that may be predictive of dating aggression and conversely of safe dating. This could lead to methods to better address the problem. In today’s Research News article “Technology-Delivered Dating Aggression: Risk and Promotive Factors and Patterns of Associations Across Violence Types Among High-Risk Youth.” See:
or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:
Epstein-Ngo and colleagues recruited youths 14-20 years old, who came to an emergency room for any reason and administered a survey on a tablet computer measuring demographics, substance use, physical dating violence, nondating violence, community violence exposure, technology-delivered dating violence (TDA), victimization and/or aggression, mentors, religious support, self-esteem, and mindfulness.
They found that the youths who had a dating partner in the past 2 months, 48.1% reported technology-delivered dating aggression (TDA) while 44.3% reported physical dating violence. A culture of violence was found to be an important risk factor as having experienced physical violence and/or been exposed to violence in the community were significantly associated with TDA. Alcohol use was also significantly associated with TDA. Finally, they found that high levels of mindfulness were associated with low levels of TDA.
Hence, in this sample of dating youths, technology-delivered dating violence (TDA) was prevalent and associated with alcohol and other violent experiences. Significantly, mindfulness was negatively associated with TDA. This suggests that exposure to violence may be an important promotive factor that could lead to a cycle of violence, where violence leads to more violence. Importantly, the results suggest that mindfulness may be an antidote. They further suggest that mindfulness training in youths may help to prevent TDA and dating violence in general. Obviously, much more work needs to be done. But, mindfulness training may be an important strategy to reduce the scourge of dating violence.
“Mindfulness training is a technique that shows great promise as a tool for the development of healthy and constructive management of negative emotions. Mindfulness can reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. It has been used with success in populations as diverse as cardiac patients, prison inmates, police officers, and children. It incorporates deep breathing, heightened attention to one’s internal state, and the acceptance of internal discomfort. One can observe one’s own thoughts without identifying with them and acting on them.” – Laura Hayes
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Epstein-Ngo, Q. M., Roche, J. S., Walton, M. A., Zimmerman, M. A., Chermack, S. T., & Cunningham, R. M. (2014). Technology-Delivered Dating Aggression: Risk and Promotive Factors and Patterns of Associations Across Violence Types Among High-Risk Youth. Violence and Gender, 1(3), 131–133. http://doi.org/10.1089/vio.2014.0018
Increasingly, technology (text, e-mail, and social media) is being used in dating relationships to stalk, control, threaten, and harass dating partners. This study examines risk and promotive factors associated with technology-delivered dating aggression (TDA) and relations between types of violence (physical dating/nondating, community violence, and TDA). Participants (14–20 years old) self-administered a computerized survey as part of a larger study at an urban emergency department. The study includes 210 youth who reported having a dating partner in the past 2 months. About 48.1% of participants reported TDA in the past 2 months. Mindfulness was negatively associated with TDA. Youth reporting TDA were more likely to report physical dating violence and community violence exposure. TDA is not an isolated occurrence and is positively associated with in-person violence among adolescents. Associations between TDA, risk and promotive factors, and other forms of violence can help identify avenues for targeting interventions.