We always encourage adults working with youth to tap pop culture as a resource for culturally relevant and age-appropriate scenarios. When the Chris Brown and Rihanna dating violence incident happened, we saw a learning opportunity—for us and the country. We quickly surveyed over 200 Boston teens about their feelings regarding the incident. The results were very surprising. In particular, the fact that a majority of the boys and girls surveyed blamed Rihanna for the incident.
The surprising realization that so many of the teens surveyed saw the incident through a “blame lens” sparked commentaries in national media. Those high-profile discussions about why so many teens hold unhealthy views about dating violence—and how to change them—led many educators and parents to open up new dialogues with their kids about the issue.