Gender-based violence, a global health and social problem, affects the physical and emotional health of women and girls of all ages and its consequences can last for years. To prevent these consequences, it is necessary to know and understand the determinants that lead many adolescents to suffer violent relationships marked by abuse and domination and the fact that the attraction to these types of relationships continues to be successful among adolescents.

The study Disdainful Hookups: a Powerful Social Determinant of Health, published in the scientific journal ‘Journal of Urban Health’, delves into the investigation of these factors that determine the choice of this type of contemptuous relationships in a group of adolescent girls aged 15 and 16 years from three schools in the city of Barcelona. The aim is to identify those interactions and coercive dialogues that encourage this type of derogatory relationships in order to be able to ‘break’ this dynamic of violent socialization that violates the affective-sexual relationships of young people, causing negative consequences for their health.

The results pointed to five main factors in peer group relationships that link attractiveness to violence:

  1. Inciting the reproduction of violent attitudes in girls under the argument “if boys treat badly, girls should do the same”.
  2. Peer pressure as a precursor to embarking on disdainful relationships. All the participants agreed on the influence that the advice and opinions of friends have on their behavior, even going so far as to enter into a sporadic or long-term relationship with a boy they do not fancy because he is “socially attractive”, going so far as to admit that, if the boy wants to have sex, they can insist that the girl agrees because he is a well-positioned boy in the group.
  3. Pressure to link attractiveness with violent men and normalize violent attitudes. Group participants comment that insisting to a girl about a certain boy can eventually make her feel that attraction. Likewise, if a girl comments that he treats her badly, this behavior is justified with positive arguments “he is a very nice guy, he is nice…”, leading the girl to justify the violent behaviors as an argument in favor of the boy’s crush on her.
  4. Coercing friends in stable relationships to have disdainful encounters, labeling girls in stable relationships as boring and instigating fear of losing friends.
  5. Taking and spreading photographs without consent, to generate distrust by sending these photographs to the partner, uploading them to social networks… As the participants explain, the Internet allows anyone to “share, save or capture” the photograph, perceiving the harassment as never-ending.

The results of this study show the influence of the peer group in learning the dominant coercive discourse and engaging in abusive relationships. The fact that boys’ disdainful and violent attitudes are identified as attractive prompts some girls to do the same and try to behave in this way with boys.

Thanks to studies such as this one, families and educators can be aware of the importance of these factors that mediate relationships and socialization among peers during adolescence -but that begin to develop from the age of 0. In this way we will be able to prevent them and protect brave, kind and egalitarian boys and girls, putting the attraction on these attitudes that protect and foster true relationships of friendship and love. Thanks to the research on the Preventive Socialization of Violence, more and more adults and children are detecting and identifying these unwanted behaviors, and we are consciously working to surround ourselves with people with values and attitudes of equality, respect and true friendship. 

Secciones: Evidencias

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