A study of 6th graders from four school districts around the country has found that reports of physical perpetration were significantly more common among females — 31% — than among males — 26%.

Even more worrisome was the finding that students were far more likely to agree that it is acceptable for a girl to hit her boyfriend — 53% — than they were to agree that it is acceptable for a boy to hit his girlfriend — 28%.

These findings suggest that dating violence prevention efforts among early adolescents should emphasize the unacceptability of female-on-male aggression.

The study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control.

Source: Simon TR, Miller S, Gorman-Smith D, Orpinas P, and Sullivan T. Physical dating violence normas and behavior among sixth-grade students from four U.S. site. Journal of Early Adolescence Vol. 30, No. 3. 2010.