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Informal Helpers' Responses When Adolescents Tell Them About Dating Violence or Romantic Relationship Problem

NCJ Number
Journal of Adolescence Volume: 30 Issue: 5 Dated: October 2007 Pages: 853-868
Arlene N. Weisz; Richard M. Tolman; Michelle R. Callahan; Daniel G. Saunders; Beverly M. Black
Date Published
October 2007
16 pages
This study examined the responses of informal helpers to adolescents who disclosed dating violence or upsetting but nonviolent experiences in their romantic relationships.
Across gender and type of experience, nurturing was the most common response of helpers, but responses differed somewhat depending on the severity of the dating experience. Adolescents who told someone about being victimized by severe dating violence were more likely to receive an avoidance response than those who told about less severe dating violence. These differences shed light on how adolescents and their support groups understand these situations and how prevention programs can target interventions. When adolescents begin dating, they venture into a world where they may not be prepared to respond to romantic relationship problems. Because these relationships have been found to play a significant role in adolescents’ mental health and set the stage for adult relationships, the process of seeking and receiving help for dating problems is important. The importance of helpers’ responses is magnified when violence is among the problems in a romantic relationship, but helpers may be unprepared to respond effectively to severe dating violence. Therefore, this study of 224 midwestern high school students compared helpers’ responses when adolescents sought help about various dating problems, whether they were of a nonviolent nature or involved different levels of violence. Tables, references