The gender symmetry problem in physical teen dating violence: A commentary and suggestions for a research agenda.
Dating violence is a serious manifestation of harmful behaviour during adolescence. During the past decades, considerable research has shed light on patterns, causes, and consequences of dating violence. One of the most notable findings emerging from widely used survey instruments is that female adolescents report perpetrating physical dating violence more or equally frequently as male adolescents. Similarly, male youth appear to equally frequently report that they have been victims of physical dating violence as female adolescents. This commentary reviews issues emerging from the debate on gender symmetry in dating violence and proposes directions for future research. It suggests that future research needs to consider three interrelated issues to advance the field, namely: to improve the understanding of differences in harm, advance the knowledge of gender differences in the short-term dynamics involved in conflict and aggression, and strengthen the evidence base on shared and gender-specific developmental aetiologies of dating violence.