Teen boys with progressive views on gender are a lot less violent

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Not teaching boys absurd interpretations of what it means to “be a man” does not only make them feel less insecure about themselves, their bodies and their sexuality, it can also help prevent violence both at home and at school.

Teenage boys with more progressive views about gender are half as likely to engage in violent behaviors as their peers with rigid views about masculinity and gender, according to new research.

The research, which was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine Friday, also found that boys who witnessed their peers engaging in two or more verbally, physically or sexually abusive behaviors — such as making disrespectful comments about a girl’s body or makeup — were two to five times more likely to engage in violent behaviors themselves.

Although previous studies have shown a connection between holding rigid views about gender and masculinity and intimate partner violence, the new study sheds light on a trickle-down effect that those views might have on other forms of violence.

“We have for too long siloed sexual and partner violence in one place, youth violence and bullying in another,” said Dr. Elizabeth Miller, lead author of the study and chief of the division of adolescent and young adult medicine at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. The new study forms a foundation to begin “focusing on gender equity as a mechanism to use for violence prevention across the board,” Miller added.

Read on…

Comments 12

  1. No surprise there, non-discriminatory education and role models are indeed critical for these kids. The ones in the pic are a perfect example of a lack of such inclusive education: They might look proud and cute, but from their gestures, they seem to hold some discrimination against homophobes… ;)

  2. The results of the study are good news and nice to know. However (I hate that word) there are a lot of other factors involved that determine violent/non-violent behavior in teenage boys.

    The two boys holding hands in the pic are adorable. I’d love to ‘catch’ them in the act. Whew … hot.

    1. “I’d love to ‘catch’ them in the act. Whew … hot.”

      Dare I say it? Some judicious surfing can bring up some very hot videos with the likes of “those 2 in the act” — just some patience required.

  3. This one of those “oldies” you were referring to, I think. They are cute. I think I remember a discussion that hand signal being something of a “gang response”?

  4. Clearly some dubious conclusions are being drawn here from the data. Unless they have controlled in the same study for lots of other factors, it’s not worth feeding this kind of stuff to the public.

    1. I concur. Very limited study, less than 1000 participants, only in Pittsburgh area, apparently no controls, only self assessment.

      To be more trustworthy (not saying it is not true, just that the methodology seems not sound enough to make any conclusions) way larger sample size, wider distribution in area and economic backgrounds, actual violence data and adding e.g. some biological and medical factors, like physical size, testosterone level and mental and developmental disorder data, e.g. ADHD in the mix.

      And yes, a replication or several of the study would be beneficial. Medicine and social sciences, especially psychology, have suffered of a replication crisis. Many of the findings that have been painted as facts have been impossible to replicate, for more information see e.g. Kahneman’s take on the issue.

      1. Yeah, the primary way to abuse the scientific method is to avoid measuring any variables that are already known to be associated (in this case, with violence). Unfortunately this abuse is all too common, for advocacy purposes or researchers trying to get published or get undeserved recognition.

  5. All this “Ain’t they cute” and “boys as pacifists” sounds as warm as a pair of fuzzy slippers but it begs the question: Who would defend our country if an entire generation eschews violence and is, indeed, incapable of using it even when necessary?

    “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”
    John Stuart Mill
    English economist & philosopher (1806 – 1873)

  6. While everyone has already seen it before, those two boys are beyond cute. Boys being boys. <3

  7. The obvious absurdity here is the FAILURE of the researchers to CONSIDER THE CONTEXT. There is violence by and also among gay people, in general, and there is little difference between gay and str8 people, in general, as for violence and murder and any other crime. What happens in a controlled area with kids and young people does not at all realize into adulthood in reality. Once free of adults versus child care and into self care through work or what, the people act different.
    — oh … the picture is cute. NEVER EVER see such, nor, anything near, in this life. Public Gay Life do not see among teens. What do see is but s very secret.
    — Boys and Men showing off their dicks is not gay even if homo.

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