Despite the exceedingly high prevalence of dating violence (DV),1 teens are notoriously unlikely to seek help from others. 2, 3 This is concerning as DV has been linked with a host of negative outcomes in adolescence that can continue into adulthood4. However, once DV is identified, provider resources and protocols for handling positive screens of DV are limited5, 6 and in many cases providers refer the adolescent to a parent. 6,7 Indeed, research has demonstrated that parents serve an integral role in their child's dating relationships and a number of dating-specific parenting behaviors have been linked to DV. 8,9,10,11 However, studies have shown that parents tend to have minimal and/or inaccurate knowledge of the prevalence and severity of DV, especially with regard to their own child.12,13 Relatedly, a large percentage of parents report responding to their child's problematic dating behavior in harmful or ineffective ways. 14,15,16 These findings suggest that parents may need guidance on how to effectively communicate about DV, particularly when their child is involved. Parent-based, secondary prevention programming has proven effective in risk reduction with other adolescent risk behaviors;17,18,19,20 however, no such evidence-based programs exist for DV.
AIMS. The aims of the proposed project are to conduct a mixed-methods needs assessment to further understand parent perspectives regarding their current attitudes, experiences, parenting practices, help- seeking patterns, available resources, and gaps in knowledge and competency related to DV awareness and intervention, as well as to further understand adolescent perspectives regarding these topics and to contrast these with parent perspectives. The study also strives to identify the interest, acceptability and feasibility of a parent-based, secondary prevention program for DV and to identify the preferences and acceptability of potential program content and structure. Data synthesized from a mixed-methods needs assessment will be used to create a preliminary outline of a parent-based, secondary prevention program for DV that can ultimately serve as a needed component of a comprehensive response to DV prevention and intervention. METHODS. The proposed mixed-methods needs assessment will be conducted with parents of teens with previously reported DV histories, as well as with the affected teen (parent-child dyads). Quantitative assessment surveys will be administered and individual, informant interviews will be conducted with parents and teens separately. Next, focus groups will be conducted with an additional sample of parents of affected teens to assess the interest, acceptability, and feasibility of the proposed program. Finally, the quantitative and qualitative data will be integrated with a review of existing literature to develop a detailed outline for a parent- based, secondary prevention program for DV. LONG TERM GOAL. My long-term goal is to develop a research program geared toward adolescent violence prevention with a focus on the advancement of parent- based prevention and intervention strategies.
Despite the high prevalence of adolescent dating violence (DV), parents' ability to effectively respond to DV experiences in their children are limited. This mixed-methods needs assessment with parents and teens affected by DV will result in a preliminary outline of a parent-based, secondary prevention program for DV. The future development of such a program could serve as a critical component in a comprehensive response to DV perpetration and victimization among youth. !