Pittsburgh (USA), Dec 27

Boys in the teenage who witness their peers abusing women are more likely to be aggressive and fight as compared to the ones who do not witness such acts of abuse, suggests a recent study.

The study was conducted by researchers of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The study has also found out those adolescents that have a more equitable gender attitude and believe that both genders deserve equal respect and opportunities are less likely to indulge in violence.

"The Me Too Movement brought to light how pervasive sexual violence and derogatory behaviour toward women is in our society," said lead researcher Elizabeth Miller.

"Our findings highlight the wide-ranging impact that witnessing sexual harassment and dating violence has on our teenage boys, and present an opportunity to teach adolescents to challenge negative gender and social norms, and interrupt their peer's disrespectful and harmful behaviours," added she.

Researchers conducted a survey of 866 boys aged 13- to-19 years. The teens completed the surveys anonymously between August 2015 and June 2017 as part of a larger study evaluating the effect of a prevention program to reduce sexual violence.

The study revealed that of the 619 boys who had ever dated in their life, 1 in 3 reported resorting to abusive behaviour toward someone their partners in the last 9 months.

Sexual harassment was also common, with 485, or 56 percent of the body accepting the same.

As many as 587 or 68 per cent of the respondents, accepted that they had been violent towards people and have engagement in fights.

Boys who said they'd witnessed their peers engaging in two or more of nine different harmful verbal, physical or sexual behaviours toward women and girls - such as making rude or disrespectful comments about a girl's body - had 2 to 5 times higher odds of engaging in a variety of violent behaviours, some having nothing to do with women or dating.

"This reinforces that pressure to conform to stereotypes about masculinity that perpetuate harmful behaviours toward women and girls are also associated with getting in a fight with another guy," said Miller.

"These behaviours aren't happening in silos - if we're going to stop one, we need to also be addressing the other," added Miller.

As a part of the study, the team of researchers evaluated a sexual violence prevention program called Manhood 2.0.

Researchers had also conducted researches on a program -- Coaching Boys into Men which, guides middle and high school coaches in talking with their male athletes about stopping violence against women and girls.

Both Manhood 2.0 and Coaching Boys into Men involve reinforcing more equitable gender attitudes and increasing the number of youth who intervene when witnessing peers' disrespectful behaviour.

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