Risk factors have been defined as "attributes or characteristics that are associated with an increased probability of [its] reception and/or expression" (Hotaling & Sugarman, 1990 p. Risk factors are correlates of dating violence and not necessarily causative factors.

They are also more likely to take IPV more seriously.

By contrast, boys are more likely to report experiencing less severe acts, such as being pinched, slapped, scratched or kicked.

There is considerable controversy regarding whether violence in teen dating relationships involves mutual aggression and indeed several studies report higher rates of inflicting violence for females (Foshee, 1996; Gray & Foshee, 1997; O'Keefe, 1997).

Fundamental problems exist, however, in asserting gender parity regarding relationship violence.

Although there are methodological problems accurately determining prevalence rates, a conservative estimate is that one in three adolescents has experienced physical or sexual violence in a dating relationship (Avery-Leaf, Cascardi, O'Leary, & Cano, 1997).

These rates are higher when verbal abuse is included in the definition.There is considerable debate over whether we as a society have an accurate picture of the prevalence and severity of teen dating violence by gender.It is important to note that although male and female adolescents do not differ in "overall frequency of violence in dating relationships," females are subject to "significantly higher levels of severe violence".Moreover, the emotional consequences of the violence are more harmful for females than for males.Further research is needed to enhance our understanding of adolescent dating violence including the nature of conflicts, as well as the meaning, context, intent, and consequences of the violence and the role of gender.Given that many of these prevention programs have only been short-term interventions, the results are particularly encouraging and demonstrate a potential to impact public health.