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Sexual behavior and aggression can be so deeply intertwined that the legality of underage consensual sex is sure to have an effect on teen dating violence.
Significant research has been done on the causes behind violent behavior in adolescent dating relationships with the intention of guiding the creation of dating violence prevention programs, and in turn has provided findings on the roles of nature and nurture in the development of such behavior with a strong favor towards nurture factors.
A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health examined the potential association between a spectrum of childhood adverse experiences and physical violence in relationships before age 21 for both members.
The subjects were asked questions about violence in their adolescent relationships, as either victim or perpetrator, and their childhood surrounding twelve different adversities: parental death, parental divorce, long-term separation from parent, parental mental illness, parental substance abuse disorder, parental criminality, inter-parental violence, serious physical illness in childhood, physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and family economic adversity.
By contrast, boys are more likely to report experiencing less severe acts, such as being pinched, slapped, scratched or kicked.
Girls are more likely to report committing less serious forms of IPV, including as a means of self-defense, whereas boys are more likely to report committing more severe acts of IPV, including threats, physical violence and controlling a partner.
In some cases, the adult may be just a few months older than the minor.
This points to a strong influence of experience, or nature, on violent tendencies in adolescent relationships.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) has been a well examined and documented phenomenon in adults; however, there has not been nearly as much study on violence in adolescent dating relationships, and it is therefore not as well understood.
The research has mainly focused on Caucasian youth, and there are yet no studies which focus specifically on IPV in adolescent same-sex romantic relationships.
Age of consent is an issue that cannot be ignored in the discussion of teenage dating violence.
Teenage sex is regulated in such a way that "age of consent laws render teenagers below a certain age incapable of consent to sexual activity with adults, and sometimes with peers".