Watching Wrestling Linked to Teen Dating Violence

ByABC News

Aug. 7, 2006 -- Researchers at Wake Forest University say that there may be a direct link between watching professional wrestling on television and increased amounts of "date fighting" and other derogatory behavior among teens.

The findings, which were conducted in 1999, and shared with other researchesr in 2001, are now being published in the journal Pediatrics this week.

Dr. Robert Durant, one of the study's authors, said the intensity of such behavior corresponded with the amount of exposure to wrestling.

The behavior Durant and his team were looking for was increased amount of drinking, drug use and fighting, both verbally and physically, with their dates.

"Is it causing these behaviors or is it that those adolescents were more prone to engage in health risk behaviors and in other violent behaviors more likely to watch wrestling," Durant said back in 2001. "I would think that a little of both is occurring."

The researchers found that among high school students, the frequency that they had watched wrestling in the previous two weeks was associated with the frequency that they had engaged in tobacco, alcohol and other substance use, as well as the frequency that they engaged in behaviors like fighting and carrying weapons.

Durant also said that he was surprised to see that teenage girls who watched wrestling were also more likely to fight with their dates as well.

"We have to advise parents to monitor what their children are watching and be careful about the amount of violence and substance abuse they allow their children to watch on television," he said.

However, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., continues to refute the study's findings. In a statement released Friday, WWE said:

"The researchers could not find a direct causal relationship between watching wrestling and health risk behaviors. The study ignored other factors that might lead to the types of behaviors discussed in the study. Its findings, therefore, are less than conclusive. In contrast to the findings of this flawed study, many of our fans attest that watching World Wrestling Entertainment programming has been a positive experience for them and their children. Many teens viewing our programs credit them with furthering their self-esteem and confidence."

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