BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE:
Dating violence is a socially relevant problem among adolescents and young adults and has begun to receive particular attention by the scientific community over the past 2 decades. It is not limited to the sexual dimension, and it may involve multiple and varied forms including physical and psychological abuse, necessitating different strategies for prevention and intervention. The objective was to identify the factors that influence dating violence among high school students and analyze the effect of contextual dating variables in the development of strategies to prevent conflict and violence in romantic relationships.
In a cross-sectional, descriptive, and correlational study, we administered questionnaires consisting of sociodemographic and contextual characterizations of dating, the Conflict in Adolescent Dating Relationships Inventory and the Attitudes Toward Dating Violence Scale, to 243 adolescents attending Portuguese public high schools. Approval was requested from the Portuguese General Directorate for Innovation and Curriculum Development, and authorization was given by the council of schools. Consent was obtained from teenagers and their parents.
Of the teenagers surveyed, 40.7% were >17 years old, and 44.1% were girls. They inhabited mainly rural areas, most were Portuguese, and a majority were in 10th grade. More than half lived with their parents (56.0%). Most were Catholic. Almost all participants were dating or had dated. There were statistically significant differences in the rates of all kinds of violence, especially among students who had sexual intercourse. The source of information about sexuality influenced some dimensions of violence, and male sexual violence stood out. We found statistically significant differences in all kinds of violence, by gender (higher in boys) and by religion, and according to which partner initiated sexual activity. The type of violence was mostly psychological. The behaviors of conflict victimization overlapped with those of perpetration, and the boys showed more strategies of conflict, while girls and the older adolescents had more no abusive strategies of their own. The conflict behaviors were significant in adolescents who initiated sexual activity earlier and not abusive strategies when sexuality is spoken between lovers or friends.
The results point to the need to integrate the topic of dating violence in the education and training of adolescents, using active methods, with participation of all stakeholders in the process (teens, parents, teachers, and health professionals) to help adolescents develop healthy relationship skills.
- Copyright © 2015 by the American Academy of Pediatrics