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.
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".
This fact begs the question of whether abuse should be evaluated based on “severity” and how that can and should be measured, or if all abuse should be considered equally harmful.
That is, young people who are labeled as or considered to be violent and aggressive at any point in time are then assumed to be dangerous for the rest of their lives.
This is a contentious issue because there is a desire to protect both parties involved (or that have the potential to become involved) in teen dating violence.
While dating, domestic and sexual violence affect women regardless of their age, teens and young women are especially vulnerable.
Young people ages 12 to 19 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault, and people age 18 and 19 experience the highest rates of stalking.
While classifying the perpetrator as a threat may be detrimental to his or her life and future relationships, not classifying the perpetrator this way may put future partners at risk.
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.
The results demonstrated a strong positive correlation between ten out of the twelve childhood adversities and physically violent behavior in a teen relationship, with 13.8% responding with experiences of sexual violence, and 11.6% experiencing inter-parental violence.
This points to a strong influence of experience, or nature, on violent tendencies in adolescent relationships.
Multiple other studies corroborate these findings, citing childhood bullying, assault, and maltreatment as significant indicators for future violence in adolescent dating.