By David Lee on December 8, 2010 · tagged as , , , , , , ,

What is the role of families to prevent dating violence?

“That’s somebody’s daughter. That’s somebody’s sister. Do you want somebody treating your sister like that? No? Well, then, keep that in mind.”

This reminder from a father to his son is quoted in a new study published online in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence about how African American families discuss teen dating violence.

While many teen dating violence prevention program emphasize school based curricula, youth leadership and media messaging, families remain an important piece of prevention efforts. I see the social ecological model (below) as a model of different types of activities that should be in a comprehensive prevention effort.  We cannot limit our prevention efforts to individual education or community education campaigns.

This article provides an interesting qualitative study of how parents address dating violence and promote healthy relationships.  Many parents are protective of their daughters, some parents speak from their experiences of being abused, and other parents promote self esteem as a protective factor to reduce the possibility of dating violence.

How does your prevention efforts support parents to prevent dating violence?

Below is the abstract and link to the article on the journal’s web site.

“Do you Want Somebody Treating Your Sister Like That?”: Qualitative Exploration of How African American Families Discuss and Promote Healthy Teen Dating Relationships.

Akers AY, Yonas M, Burke J, Chang JC. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 2010; ePublished October 1, 2010

Click here for a link to the article on the journal’s web site.

(Copyright © 2010, Sage Publications)

The article discusses a study conducted between December 2007 and March 2008 that involved 19 gender-stratified focus groups with African American parents and adolescents from Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, to explore the process and content of parent-adolescent communication about sex. Discussions about intimate partner violence (IPV) and healthy relationships emerge inductively as critical topics in these conversations. The authors use a grounded theory approach to content analysis to identify and organize themes related to discussions on these topics. A total of 125 participants from 52 families are recruited for the study. Family history of child sexual abuse often motivates discussions. Mothers are described as the primary parent discussing sexual issues with children. Fathers primarily role model ideal male partnership behavior for sons and daughters. Parents seek to prevent daughters from experiencing sexual abuse or emotional manipulation by partners and focus on instilling a sense of responsibility to and respect for romantic partners in sons. Parents prioritize and express the need for tools to influence their adolescent’s socialization as romantic partners. Mothers and fathers approach this process differently. Family-focused interventions to prevent unhealthy relationships can build on parent’s efforts.

David Lee

More Posts by David Lee

David S. Lee, MPH, is the Director of Prevention Services at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault where he provides training and technical assistance on prevention. David manages the national project PreventConnect, an online community of violence against women prevention practitioners, funders, researchers and activists. For over 27 years David has worked in efforts to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jenny December 9, 2010 at 12:27 pm

It’s interesting to me that so much of the discussion was focused on preventing victimization. Parents (and adolescents) seemed to focus on how familial communication is used to reduce victimization risk, and mostly for their daughters. While there was a significant section on parents teaching their sons to respect women, it still mostly falls on the young women to have enough self esteem to avoid unhealthy relationships.

What about reducing the likelihood of perpetration?

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