Did you know teenaged girls are still defending Chris Brown, despite him all but admitting to beating up Rihanna? It's true; the New York Times has been hanging with high schoolers to find out.

On Facebook: "she probly [sic] ran into a door and was too embarrassed so blamed it on chris."

At Hostos-Lincoln Academy in the Bronx: "She probably made him mad for him to react like that. You know, like, bring it on?"

At a high school in Austin, Texas: "Yeah, men hit women, and women hit men. It was blown out of proportion because they're celebrities."

Those aren't stray examples: 46 percent of teenagers blamed Rihanna for the incident in a recent survey of 200 teens by the Boston Public Health Commission.

So... why? The Times distilled four possibilities:

  • Crazed fans lack perspective. They literally cannot believe Brown, who as an R&B singer cultivated a sweet image and even appeared on Sesame Street, is capable of such an attack. "His posters are on the bedroom wall, the last face they see before they sleep," former Vibe editor Mimi Valdés Ryan told the Times.
  • Immature teens have not yet developed the moral compasses to properly assess what happened. They're still developing, and "what they feel in the morning can be different from what they feel in the evening."
  • Cultural factors encouraging the protection of boys from social persecution. An African-American studies professor told the Times many girls have been taught, "we don't destroy boys," and the girls believe that abuse allegations will do just that.
  • Gender equality, or at least a very skewed sense of what that means, encourages a notion of "equal responsibility" for abuse. One Bronx teen: "If they hit you, smack them back." Uh, right, unless they're much bigger.

This is one of the weightier and more redeeming trend stories ever to run in the Thursday Styles section. Also: One of the most depressing.

(Pic: Getty, two girls outside the Los Angeles Superior courthouse, March 5.)