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01-08-2012 | Original Paper | Uitgave 4/2012

Journal of Child and Family Studies 4/2012

Individual, Peer, and Family Factors Influencing Urban African American Adolescents’ Responses to Problem Dating Situations

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 4/2012
Terri N. Sullivan, Saba W. Masho, Sarah W. Helms, Elizabeth H. Erwin, Albert D. Farrell, Katherine A. Taylor


A clear understanding of factors influencing adolescents’ responses to problem dating situations is needed to guide efforts to promote healthy dating relationships and address issues such as emotional distress, conflict, and violence in dating contexts. This study used qualitative methods guided by a socio-ecological model to identify factors at the individual-level and those within adolescents’ peer and family relationships that influenced their use of specific strategies (active, avoidant, support-seeking, or aggressive) in response to problem dating situations. Interviews were conducted with 38 African American middle and high school students in an urban public school system. Participants identified nine themes that would make it easier for them to engage in their best response strategies to deal with problem dating situations. These included four individual-level factors (e.g., individual characteristics and adolescents’ confidence in their ability to address dating problems), three peer factors (e.g., supportive advice from peers), and two family factors (e.g., support, advice, and messages about dating relationships from family members). Nine themes were identified that would make it harder for adolescents to engage in these responses including three individual-level factors (e.g., difficulty in regulating anger, anxiety, and sadness in dealing with dating problems), four peer factors (e.g., peer instigated conflict among dating partners), and two family factors (e.g., family involvement in adolescents’ dating relationships). The results inform prevention efforts that focus on promoting healthy dating relationships during adolescence.

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