Study: teenage violence a serious problem

According to a NZ Family Violence Clearinghouse paper Dr Melanie Beres that has just been released teenage violence and sexual abuse are serious problems – we already knew that but this has quantified it.

NZ Herald: NZ Family Violence Clearinghouse study on adolescent relationship violence revealed

Report’s findings

  • Up to 60 per cent of high school students have been in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship.
  • 29 per cent of New Zealand secondary students reported being hit or harmed by another person in the previous year.
  • 20 per cent of female and 9 per cent of male secondary school students reported having experienced unwanted sexual behaviour in the previous year. The majority of incidents were perpetrated by a boyfriend, girlfriend or friend.
  • 21 per cent of women who stayed in women’s refuges were aged 15-19 years.
  • ​About 9 per cent of New Zealand secondary school students said they were attracted to people of the same-sex, or unsure of their sexual attraction, and up 3 per cent identified as transgender or unsure of their gender identity.
  • ​Compared with other New Zealanders, adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 have the highest rates of intimate partner violence, according to the New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey.
  • ​Intimate-partner violence is perpetrated by and against people from all communities, ethnic groups and socio-economic backgrounds, but marginalised groups are at higher risk.

Dr Melanie Beres:

“Adolescence is a key time where we learn about how to have intimate relationships”.

“If our introduction to relationships is around issues of power and control and emotional abuse this can influence later relationships in life”

“Boys are taught to be tough, strong and in control. They are taught that they should want sex and it’s their job to initiate and ‘get’ it.”

“Girls are taught to be polite and to be nurturers by looking after the feelings of others . . . They are cautioned that being “too sexual” is a risk for them because boys cannot control themselves.”

“There was talk that they are good boys who made a mistake rather than looking at their behaviour and saying this is a problem, there’s a bigger issue here.”

“This is not just about these two individuals, this is actually about a social problem we have in the ways young men are taught to perceive young women and talk about young women.”

“If we are serious about solving this issue we need to put more resources into primary prevention to look at building healthy relationships rather than intervening when things are already pear shaped.

“It’s about learning how to value other things in men and women.”

Newstalk ZB: Revealed: Damning stats show teenage abuse a serious problem in NZ

Paper author Dr Melanie Beres, of the University of Otago, said there are two separate issues at play.

She said it shows “the severity of what does and can happen in adolescent relationships”.

“It also speaks to the lack of support around those individuals, in terms of needing to seek that support,” she said.

Dr Beres said violence within adolescent relationship often falls through the cracks.

“We think that they’re fleeting and that next week they’ll have a different love interest, so that also extents to the way in which adults think about violence in adolescent relationships.”

Big problems with no easy or quick solutions, but more has to be done.

Leave a comment


  1. Gezza

     /  31st May 2017

    When parents’ relationships are non-existent, transitory, selfish, violent, whatever – hey, what kind of teenagers & young adults are you likely to get ?

  2. Brown

     /  31st May 2017

    It all depends on how you measure things. Any report that waffles on about same sex and transgender whatever when the %’s of those are tiny makes me squint and wonder about agenda.

    • Anonymous Coward

       /  31st May 2017

      When someone has a whinge about “same sex and transgender whatever when the %’s of those are tiny” when all that was mentioned was the percentage their rampant homophobia starts showing.

  3. Zedd

     /  31st May 2017

    methinks they are spending too long in ‘the matrix’.. time to get heads… back into the ‘real world’

  4. PDB

     /  31st May 2017

    The ‘reports findings’ are actually ‘cherry-picked’ data from a variety of second-hand sources, some which were produced as far back as the late 1990’s – no actually survey/investigation/discussion with teens was specifically done as part of this paper (which isn’t made clear in the MSM reporting).

    This comment blaming ‘colonisation’ in the paper pretty much sums up the viewpoint of its writer;

    “Māori today continue to be negatively impacted by colonisation, racism, poverty, social marginalisation and lack of social and institutional recognition for Te Ao Māori (Māori worldview).”

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  31st May 2017

      Yes, the “marginalised groups” reference raised a red flag for me. I would want to see verification before I trusted any of it.


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