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Friends help girls avoid bad boyfriends

A study has concluded that strong ties of friendship help teenage girls avoid getting into abusive relationships.

sex and relationships Updated: Aug 22, 2013 13:09 IST

Having a strong circle of friends can help teenage girls avoid abusive relationships, US researchers said on Wednesday.

They said friends set the rules for dating, including those that determine when behaviour crosses the line into abuse.

"The group defines what normal behaviour is," said Sharyl Toscano of the University of Vermont, whose study on teen dating and violence appears in the journal BMC Nursing.

She said teenage girls tend to learn how to date during group outings, which offer protection from unwanted sexual advances. "By hanging out in this group, they all share these values," Toscano said in a telephone interview.

If abuse or rape occurs, a group of friends often tries to resolve problems before telling adults. When they can't, they reach out. "But they would only approach someone if they knew them personally," Toscano said.

She said parents should make an effort to know their daughter's friends. And they should take seriously any requests for intervention, because the group has likely already tried to solve the problem unsuccessfully.

The study, available online at http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcnurs/, was based on extensive interviews with 22 high school girls aged 15 to 18.