Dating Abuse Begins in Middle School: Study

Domestic abusers are starting young, and educators are trying to stop it.

By Chris Roberts
|  Saturday, Mar 31, 2012  |  Updated 11:32 AM PDT
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NBC Bay Area's Brent Cannon talks to Debbie Lee, of Start Strong, about a new Study showing the Dangers of Teen Dating to understand how we can stop the violence.

NBC Bay Area's Brent Cannon talks to Debbie Lee, of Start Strong, about a new Study showing the Dangers of Teen Dating to understand how we can stop the violence.

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The couples get in fights, call each other mean names, and sometimes get physical.

And they're still in eighth grade.

Abusive relationships can begin as early as middle school, according to the San Francisco Examiner, which noted a study that reported 49 percent of seventh-graders reported being sexually harassed in the last six months -- with 15 percent reporting that they'd been physically abused by their dating partner within that time frame.

The figures come from a survey of 1,400 seventh-graders across the country, and did not surprise schoolchildren interviewed by the newspaper.

"I see it often, like every day," an Oakland eighth-grader said.

The concern is that these bad habits start early and continue into adulthood, and there's plenty of people getting experience early: 75 percent of seventh-graders reported being in a relationship, according to the study.

Oakland Unified School District is participating in Start Strong, a program intended to break this cycle of violence and "promote healthy relationships among 11- to 14-year olds."

"If more schools had it, I guess there would be less violence," an eighth-grader told the paper.

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