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By on January 7, 2011

Do teen magazines educate on dating violence?

Photo from midniteboom, 2010 on Flickr

In this world of online media, social networking and blogs, teen magazines are still have a large presence (for example Seventeen’s circulation is still over 2 million). In the article Teen Magazines as Educational Texts on Dating Violence: The $2.99 Approach published in the journal Violence Against Women, authors Kettrey and Emery analyzed how teen magazines reported on dating violence, rape and domestic violence.

I am not surprised that the study’s content analysis found almost 95% of the articles used an individual frame focusing on individual behavior while only 65% of the articles recognized social factors (described as “societal attitudes, sexism, socialization, violence in the media, societal tolerance of violence, and poverty.”)

For dating violence and sexual violence prevention efforts, this study suggests that prevention not only provides information, but it also must help reframe dating violence as a social and cultural phenomenon. Kettrey and Emery recognize that these articles are often a resource teens use to find out about dating violence and suggest

…it is essential that educators, counselors, coaches, and other professionals who work with adolescents understand this and be prepared to deal with the content of those articles so that they can help adolescents construct more accurate meanings around the physical and sexual violence they may encounter in their dating relationships.

What we also need is media to frame the issues of dating violence and sexual violence from a social and cultural perspective. What examples have you seen that do this well?

Here is the abstract and details about the article:

Teen Magazines as Educational Texts on Dating Violence: The $2.99 Approach

Heather Hensman Kettrey and Beth C. Emery, Violence Against Women 16(11) 1270 –1294

Click here for a link to the article on the journal’s web site.


This study analyzed the portrayal of dating violence in teen magazines published in the United States. Such an investigation is important because previous research indicates that dating violence is a serious problem facing adolescents, teen magazines overemphasize the importance of romantic relationships, and teens who read this genre frequently or for education/advice are especially susceptible to its messages. Results indicated that although teen magazines do frame dating violence as a cultural problem, they are much more likely to utilize an individual frame that emphasizes the victim. Results were discussed as they apply to the responsibilities of professionals working with adolescents.

2 responses to “Do teen magazines educate on dating violence?”

  1. Wow. I’m pretty sure all I learned from teen mags was that plum is a universally flattering lip color.

    This is fantastic. If only our reach to the media was such that we could get less victim blaming stories in to these mags (cough, the cosmo grey rape saga, anyone?) We are getting there. Slowly.

  2. I’m not surprised by the individual focus either. Putting some thought into your last question. Feminist media outlets of course do this well, but I’m hoping to find something “mainstream.” Anyone have examples? I find that following the CWTV shows gives me a lot of insight into what messages are out there. 🙂

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