Dating violence in mid-adolescence Theory, significance, and emerging prevention initiatives
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Adolescent dating violence is an important juncture in the developmental pathway to adult partnership violence. As a window of opportunity for positive change, the present review considers the theoretical and empirical work on adolescent dating and dating violence. A consideration of the scope of the problem, developmental processes, and theoretical formulations precede a review of six relationship violence prevention programs designed for and delivered to youth. Five programs are school-based and one operates in the community. Prevention is targeted toward both universal (e.g., all high school students) and selected adolescent populations (e.g., youths with histories of maltreatment, or problems with peer aggression). Programs addressed specific skills and knowledge that oppose the use of violent and abusive behavior toward intimate partners; one program addressed interpersonal violence more generally, and was also included in this review because of its implications for dating violence initiatives. Positive changes were found across studies in violence-related attitudes and knowledge, also, positive gains were noted in self-reported perpetration of dating violence, with less consistent evidence in self-reported victimization. However, these findings should be considered preliminary due to limited follow-up and generalizability. Conceptual and methodological issues are discussed with a view toward improving assessment methods and research design.
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