BOSTON (RPRN) 03/21/09– A survey conducted by the Boston Public Health Commission on the dating violence incident involving pop music idols Chris Brown and Rihanna revealed that nearly half of Boston youths surveyed said she was â€œresponsibleâ€ for what happened while 52 percent said they were both to blame.
â€œThe story of Chris Brown and Rihanna may have happened 3,000 miles away, but it is very much a Boston story,â€ said Casey Corcoran, director of the Public Health Commissionâ€™s new Start Strong program.
Oprah will feature the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships Initiative. Last November, the Boston Public Health Commission received one of the foundationâ€™s $1 million, four-year grants to launch a Boston-based Start Strong effort to prevent and reduce teen dating violence, as part of the nationwide initiative. The goal is to stop teen dating abuse before it starts, specifically focusing on teaching 11 to 14-year olds about healthy relationships. This
includes ensuring that parents, teachers, coaches, older siblings, peers, school nurses, and mentors know what to say to teens and that relationship violence is unacceptable, Corcoran said.
Corcoranâ€™s program, housed in the Commissionâ€™s Division of Violence Prevention, surveyed 200 Boston youth ages 12 to 19, between Feb. 13 and 20, using the Chris Brown-Rihanna case to gauge their attitudes toward teen dating violence; 100 percent of those surveyed had heard about the incident.
Among the findings:
* 71% said arguing was a normal part of a relationship
* 44% said fighting was a normal part of a relationship
* 51% said Chris Brown was responsible for the incident
* 46% said Rihanna was responsible for the incident
* 52% said both individuals were to blame for the incident, despite knowing at the time that
Rihanna had been beaten badly enough to require hospital treatment
* 35% said the media were treating Rihanna unfairly
* 52% said the media were treating Chris Brown unfairly
In addition, a significant number of males and females in the survey said Rihanna was destroying Chris
Brownâ€™s career, and females were no less likely than males to come to Rihannaâ€™s defense.
â€œBoston parents need to be aware that our children are facing a crisis,â€ said Emily F. Rothman, assistant professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Boston University
School of Public Health, and an advisor to the Boston Start Strong initiative. â€œTen percent of Massachusetts youth report having experienced dating violence during their lifetimes. The consequences of dating violence can be severe and long-lasting. Teen dating violence victimization canbe a precursor to adult violence victimization, and can increase risky behaviors during adolescence,including substance use, unhealthy dieting and weight control practices, and suicidal behavior,â€ she said.
Corcoran suggested that parents use the Chris Brown-Rihanna incident as an opportunity to ask their children for their opinions about what happened, and to share their own viewpoints. â€œThe case provides all of us with an opportunity to have this conversation with the young people in our lives, and it should serve as a reminder that no one—not even the rich and famous—are immune to abuse.â€
Parents who need help talking to their teen can contact the “Child Witness to Violence Project” at the Boston Medical Center, which offers counseling and advice at (617) 414-4244, or call Casa Myrna Vazquez (877) 785-2020, which can offer tips on talking to teens about dating violence.