Adolescent dating relationships lay the foundation for intimacy and healthy sexuality;moreover, patterns which develop in adolescence influence the establishment of intimate partner relationships in adulthood. Conversely, the occurrence of adolescent dating violence may disrupt normative development and may be associated with other risk engagement, including unhealthy sexual behaviors that can lead to unintended pregnancy, STDs, including HIV infections. Furthermore, adolescents who are in abusive relationships may carry these unhealthy patterns of abuse into future relationships. Thus, by understanding the factors that may prevent or predict adolescent dating violence, we may ultimately reduce the incidence of adult partner violence. Within this context, the overall aim of this study is to better understand how conceptualizations of healthy and harmful dating relationships are informed by religious socialization and whether such socialization may be related to risk of dating violence victimization. More specifically, this study will make use of the Socialization Influence Framework (SIF), which identifies multiple domains of socialization influence and socialization mechanisms that shape adolescent health-related attitudes, beliefs and behaviors, to examine the influence of religious socialization on adolescent dating relationships. Utilizing the SIF model, this study aims to gain an understanding of how family, peers, religious institutions, religious schooling, parental and personal religiosity influence adolescent girls'conceptualizations of healthy and harmful dating relationships, the appropriateness of adolescent dating and acceptable dating behaviors. The study will be conducted across six high schools in the greater Baltimore, MD area, including 4 religious day schools, 1 private school and 1 secular public school. A total of 50 in-depth interviews will be conducted, transcribed and analyzed by a multi-disciplinary team using Atlas.ti, qualitative data management software that enables coding, retrieval, data management and linkage. After all the analyses are completed, a series of 10 focus groups will be conducted. One focus group at each school will consist of girls who were interview participants;the other will consist of girls who were not interview participants. In focus group sessions, the researchers will discuss the emerging findings to verify its authenticity and validity. The qualitative approach will facilitate the development of a textured and nuanced understanding of adolescent conceptualizations of healthy and harmful dating relationships and how these are shaped by religious socialization. Employing the SIF in a largely qualitative study offers an unparalleled opportunity to examine the mechanisms by which religious socialization influences early sexual behaviors among adolescents.

Public Health Relevance

The aim of this study is to better understand how adolescent girls'ideas about healthy and harmful dating relationships may be shaped by religious affiliation, beliefs and practices and whether these factors may be related to their risk of being a victim of dating violence. Information gathered from this study can contribute greatly to our understanding of the ways religious socialization may influence adolescent development and sexual health.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Small Research Grants (R03)
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Pediatrics Subcommittee (CHHD)
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Maholmes, Valerie
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University of Maryland College Park
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
College Park
United States
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