A multi-year cohort-sequential study of rural adolescent dating violence victimization and perpetration is proposed. The project's goal is to define an ecological, multilevel model of dating violence victimization and perpetration among adolescents in the rural south as a prelude to developing a comprehensive, community-based prevention and intervention initiative and generating specific policy and program recommendations for the prevention of adolescent dating violence. Data will be collected across a four-year study period from a random sample of females and males in grades 6 through 12 (approximate age range of 12 to 19), a parent or caregiver, and school and youth serving organization personnel. Data will also be collected through an observational study of the adolescents'neighborhoods, through third party sources of neighborhood-level data and through an observational study of adolescent couples who have been dating for a minimum of three months. Finally, data will be collected on factors characterizing the organizational setting where youth spend substantial amounts of time, including schools and youth serving organizations. Latent growth curve analysis will be used to model the data. Specifically, the project will 1) describe the developmental trajectory of dating violence victimization and perpetration among adolescent females and males in a rural southern setting;2) identify multilevel risk factors for dating violence victimization and perpetration in the population;3) define predictive models for dating violence victimization and perpetration, taking individual, dyadic, familial, organizational, and neighborhood and community factors into account;4) describe the dyadic context of adolescent dating relationships relative to victimization and perpetration;5) design a multi- level ecological intervention approach to preventing and ameliorating adolescent dating violence victimization and perpetration based on predictive risk models;6) develop specific policy and program recommendations for responding to rural adolescent dating violence victimization and perpetration;and 7) disseminate research findings and policy and program recommendations.
The proposed research will contribute to a better understanding of dating violence and its consequences, particularly among adolescents in the rural South, leading to improved public health policies and programs for preventing dating violence and stimulating additional research using multilevel, ecological models. The project will also contribute to identifying the complex interactions among individual, family, and community factors contributing to dating violence, informing clinical practice and community-based interventions. [Specifically, the research will provide an empirical basis for tailoring prevention and intervention policies and programs to fit the development of dating violence over time and for incorporating strategies responding to dating violence at the individual, family, neighborhood, and organizational levels. The results are expected to point to the need to plan and implement comprehensive, community-wide prevention programs targeting teens and their families in natural community settings, arming youth service workers with generalized dating violence prevention strategies, and bringing about changes in the normative structure of communities to engage community residents in prevention efforts. The research will contribute to future empirical investigation by highlighting the utility of accelerated longitudinal designs and growth curve modeling.]