Rap Relationships: Music and Teenage Dating Violence Teenagersall across the country are changing the culture of dating. From dating apps, torecent music and pop-culture, a variety of things are making romanticrelationships different from what they used to be.
These human relationshipshave always changed with time and they certainly are different now. Unfortunately,a byproduct of the new dating culture is newfound acceptance and increase ofdating violence. Many people blame rap music, because of the violence itcontains, and say that it must be boycotted.
Dating violence is hurting the teensof society today, and I am addressing the validity of that claim. Rap music ispopular, especially among adolescents, and certainly could be a leading factorin this change. Manysay that teenagers are stubborn and we won’t be able to influence their habits,whether we like it or not. Many people say that our popular culture has littleto do with the behavior of teenagers. However, pop culture, especially music, doeshave an influence on the teenagers in America.
Adolescents often base theirvalues on their peers’ values or off of the culture they live in. Rap music canfacilitate dating violence and especially can lead to a larger acceptance of itin our society, particularly in adolescents. In this paper, I will be cover thehistory of rap music and dating violence, going over varying opinions about therelationship of the two, showing how rap music has led to a greater acceptanceof dating violence, and offering solutions to this problem. History of Rap Music and Dating Violence Rapmusic is a genre of music that expresses and promotes opinions and values thatare unique. Rap music often portrays the ideal that the morals depicted aredesirable or more noble than that of the average human (Edmundson 2).
Thevalues in this type of music can vary by song and artist, but, in general, theyinvolve violence, prowess, and pride (Edmundson 3). In a study of popularmusic, it was found that approximately 1/3 of popular songs had derogatoryviolent or sexual messages (Wright 2). Rap music also has a unique listeningaudience. Many people may think that rap music is only for inner-city youngadults. However, this isn’t the case. Dr. Raphael Travis, a researcher andprofessor at Texas State University, helps us understand this, “it is nearlyimpossible to walk through any major setting where large numbers of youth aregathered without seeing headphones in ears or hearing music playing” (Travis4).
He has studied adolescents and he found that rarely do youth gather withouthaving music playing. Dr. Travis also tells us that, “Consumers of contemporaryrap music do not fit neatly into stereotypical demographic genres.
We find consumersacross ages, racial and ethnic categories, genders, and geographic regions”(Travis 2). Later, he also expresses that rap music is shunned in some groupsjust as much as it is celebrated in the same groups (Travis 2). So, we learn,from his studies, that rap music is consumed by people in many differentgroups.
Inner-city youth are not the only ones who listen to rap music. Thisshows that rap music could be having a large impact on the decisions thatteenagers are making across the country. Datingviolence also has some inner-city stereotypes. But, similar to rap music,studies have found different. We know that around half of teens are in arelationship by adulthood and that almost all have dated before then(Friedlander 1). So, relationships and dating are extremely common among youth.
The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control released a fact sheetabout violence and teenagers. They found that there are 4 common types ofdating violence, physical, emotional, sexual, and stalking (Understanding 1). They also found in astudy that “among high school students who dated, 21% of females and 10% ofmales experienced physical and/or sexual dating violence” (Understanding 1). This is among all high schoolers – not justinner-city ones.
Dating violence in teenagers is much more common than peoplethink. There is also more to dating violence than some may think. As I refer to”dating violence” throughout this work, know that I mean physical, emotional,sexual, and stalking violence. There is also a large group of teenagers whohave been victims of violence but don’t admit to it. This could be due to thefact that teens are afraid to report it to others (Understanding 1). Teens often are embarrassed to tell family and/orfriends that they are in an abusive relationship. This leads to an incorrectassumption in our culture that dating violence isn’t very common.VaryingOpinions about Rap Music and its Effect: Manypeople may say that most people who listen to rap music are good people, notabusive people, and that there is an incorrect assumption made that raplisteners are bad.
Their point isn’t just out of thin air either. Many of usmay listen to rap music ourselves and may not be in an abusive relationship.Many of us may know someone who listens to rap music and is in a great, healthyrelationship. However, there is a big generalization being made with thisclaim. It isn’t fair to see healthy relationships in your life, and thengeneralize that to everyone’s life.
We know that abusive relationships are outthere, and the proportion isn’t that small. Laura Friedlander, who has aMaster’s Degree in Neurology, did a study to find if aggressive media canpredict aggressive behavior in teenagers. The findings indicated that mediawith aggressive messages, like rap music, can raise the occurrence of datingviolence in teens (Friedlander 2). Thus, in general, partakers of rap musicoften have more violent behavior than those who don’t. Now, it is important toaddress how high it raises that occurrence. It would be unfair to assume thatall people who participate in violent media become extremely violent people.Using the same study as reference, it was found that violent music increaseddating violence by around 2% (Friedlander 6). Teens are affected negatively byexposure to violent rap music.
However, it may not make many adolescents moreviolent in their relationships. Othersmay say that adolescents are affected by listening to rap music, but not enoughto be worried. Many people think that teens who listen to rap music change, butonly a little. This is a claim that is loosely confirmed by the study listedabove. If 98% of teens won’t become violent by listening to violent music, thenit doesn’t seem like too much to worry about. However, becoming violent inrelationships is not the only byproduct. One of the most dangerous effects ofviolent media is an increased acceptance of it.
Teens may not participate indating violence, but if it happened later, they could accept it. The rap-musicculture can cause an increase in the acceptance of dating violence. In anotherstudy, done by Felicity Baker, who has a Ph.D. and works at the University ofQueensland, it was found that violent music can desensitize reactions toviolence (Baker 3). Listening to violent rap music can drastically changeadolescents’ values and morals.
Many teens will become more acceptant of datingviolence if they listen to rap music. Somepeople also believe that rap music doesn’t always have bad messages or impacton people. That is a very valid point. However, just because a few songs don’thave violent depictions doesn’t mean rap music is non-violent. Others may alsobelieve the opposite. They may believe that all music that has rap-style slowlyturns people into murderers.
Both of these generalizations are much to large tobe made in this instance. In the case of music, there is so much variation thatwe have to just look at the big picture. For this paper, we will be looking atmajority, since it will have the most consistent message. In general, rapculture has violent messages and depictions.
There are songs at both ends ofthe spectrum, but the middle of the spectrum is violence. Rap culture is alifestyle and an ideal. Many teens may idolize the rap artists that they listento, most of which live violent lives. So, much of rap music does have violentmessages, and people can be influenced by that.
Teenagers are certainlyaffected by the messages in the music they listen to, and rap music, which isgenerally violent, can make teenagers more violent in relationships. It alsocan cause an increased acceptance of dating violence, as discussed earlier.Some rap may not have violent morals, but the culture is a violent one. Andteens who are in that culture are going to change to become more like it andmore acceptant of it.
My Findings Teenagersare affected by rap music and rap culture to become more acceptant of datingviolence. This is the problem that is plaguing our society. Rap music andculture, generally, combine to teach teenagers that relationship abuse isacceptable and normal. Adolescents in our society often respond to the valuesand trends that they see in their peers and pop-culture.
Since rap music hasviolent lyrics, often youth that follow rap culture grow up thinking that thattype of violence is normal. Datingviolence is large issue, but if teens aren’t acceptant of it, then our societywill move away from it too. Much of the dating violence that occurs is notreported (Friendlander 2).
This leads me to believe that it is unreported dueto it being considered acceptable behavior. This opinion is what will makedating violence an epidemic. If every single case of relationship abuse wasreported to adults and other authorities, then we could drastically reduce theamount of repeated incidences.
We, as influencers of the future, must becautious of our attitudes to abusive relationships. By helping teens learn thatviolence is unacceptable, we can significantly reduce the amount of unreporteddating violence in our society. Rapmusic doesn’t necessarily have to be avoided. Teens and all people can listento rap music without becoming extremely violent. Rap music does spread messagesof unacceptable violence, and teens do pick up on them. Teenagers rarely becomeviolent because of music, however.
As discussed earlier, their attitude towardsabusive relationships may change. Rap music is making our society moreacceptant of dating violence. In a 2015 journal, Chrysalis Wright, who hasearned a Ph. D. in developmental psychology, teaches us about the powerfuleffect of music on teens.
In this journal she states, “listeners are more likelyto make decisions, adopt thinking processes, and behave similar to the contentcontained in the music they are exposed to” (Wright 23). Here we see thatadolescents are more likely to adopt violent thinking processes contained inrap music. Many people may think that this statement is evidence that teenagersshould stay away from rap music lest they become more violent. However, we havelearned that rap consumers rarely ever become more violent. They are morelikely to that the average listener, but the real issue lies in the adoption ofthought processes.HowWe Can Help Overall,rap music does increase dating violence, but not by a wildly significantamount.
However, more importantly, it does increase the acceptance of datingviolence in adolescents by a remarkable margin. Teenagers are at one of themost influenceable times in their lives, and their morals and values that theyfollow in teenage years will likely follow them into adulthood (Friedlander 1).Educating our society’s adolescents will decrease the acceptance of datingviolence, and will in turn decrease the amount of dating violence that goes onunnoticed. Teens who know the dangers of violent relationships will not allowthemselves to be in an abusive relationship. If we help our teenagers develop amoral defense against dating violence, it will carry on through theiradulthood, and decrease the occurrence of unreported abuse. Therehave been programs implemented in Canada schools that have seen success inreducing acceptance of dating violence and I would like to highlight theprocess they used.
Discussed in an NPR radio interview, writer Brenda Wilsonilluminates some examples of teaching our society’s youth in Canada. Theprogram would start with teenage students expressing example violent situationsthat they might run into (Wilson). Then, other students would do a guidedrole-play of how to act in that specific situation (Wilson). This programresulted in a 5% decrease of dating violence acceptance. That is significantchange that will only snowball through social groups. This is just one exampleof how educating adolescents about dating violence will decrease incidents. Thesolution to the problem is not to change rap music, but to educate about othermorals and values.
So,what do we do as students here today? Now that you are educated on the gravityof the issue, and its pertinence, you can fight in the battle. Educate youth inyour area and your field. Whether you become a teacher or not, there willalways be young people to influence for good.
Become a force that will chokeout dating violence. Music is an influencer, but not large enough of one to stopour efforts. Don’t make teenagers stop listening to rap, rather, teach howunacceptable some of the violence depicted in rap music is. Instruct your youngpeers that violence is relationships is wrong and that it can be reported toparents, administrators, and other proper authorities.
We can becomeinfluencers of good and help the future leaders of society. Change is indeedpossible, and the catalysts are here in this room.