Introduction: Despite decades of teen dating and abuse research, dating victimization and perpetration prevalence remains troublingly high (10-12% of teens reported physical abuse and 33% reported some form of abuse). In response to this public health crisis, much effort has focused on developing prevention programs.
A review of 140 primary prevention strategies for sexual violence noted that only two interventions, Safe Dates (SD) and Shifting Boundaries (SB) were efficacious against sexual violence. Although promising results, neither curriculum reflect current teen sexual attitudes and behaviors, diversity in sexual identity nor the influence of technology (e.g., social media). We propose a research study protocol to examine areas of contemporary youth culture, sexual-identity, including LGBTQ+ that could be included in these interventions. This study’s goals are to: 1) examine contemporary youth culture, such as interpersonal and dating language; 2) understand digital media, youth interpersonal relations (friendships and dating) and sexual behaviors intersection; and 3) suggest changes to “modernize” leading intervention models (SD and SB) that were developed almost a generation ago.
Method: We propose this research use focus groups and semi-structured interviews with youth (aged 12-21), community-based providers, and school staff. The social element (i.e., group interaction) in focus groups provides an opportunity to gather diverse perspectives, rich and detailed information. In their natural setting, researchers can observe participants’ behaviors and tap into their shared knowledge as well.
Participants will be asked open-ended questions about interpersonal and dating language, youth interpersonal and dating relationships and how digital media is used in those relationships, as well as specific questions about the language used in current curriculums, including applicability to modern youth dating culture. Atlas.ti, a qualitative software, will be used to identify themes and patterns among transcribed recordings. Multiple coders will identify themes and patterns and inter-coder reliability.
Conclusion: Sexual victimization and perpetration in teens remain a societal crisis. This presentation proposes a study protocol to gather information to “modernize” current intervention models. A current understanding of adolescents dating culture and possible pathways to abuse can help improve the effectiveness of dating violence prevention interventions. Adolescent voices are an invaluable resource in updating the field as they may shed light on contemporary relationships (friendships and dating) language.