JOURNAL ARTICLE

Injunctive social norms of adults regarding teen dating violence

Catherine A Taylor, Susan B Sorenson
Journal of Adolescent Health 2004, 34 (6): 468-79
15145404

PURPOSE: To assess applied injunctive social norms of adults regarding teen dating violence (TDV) and compare them with those regarding adult domestic violence (ADV).

METHODS: A total of 3679 California adults from six ethnic groups (roughly equal numbers of African-American, Hispanic, Korean-American, Vietnamese-American, other Asian-American, and white respondents) participated in a 27-minute interview. An experimental vignette design was used to test for associations among contextual (i.e., victim, assailant, and situational) characteristics of TDV and ADV, respondent demographic characteristics, and injunctive social norms (i.e., whether adults thought the behavior was wrong, illegal, or should be illegal, police should be called, or a restraining order issued). Data were analyzed using multivariate logistic regression, controlling for vignette variables (i.e., contextual characteristics) and respondent characteristics. Interactions were examined to test for differences in responses to TDV and ADV.

RESULTS: Nearly all adults report that most forms of TDV are wrong (97%) and should be illegal (81%), and a majority support interventions for TDV such as calling police and issuing a restraining order. TDV involving sexual assault, physical assault, or weapons received the greatest levels of support for societal intervention. Differences in respondent judgments regarding TDV and ADV were evident when the victim had been raped. Respondent characteristics generally were not associated with responses.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that there is general public support for prevention and intervention strategies aimed at reducing and responding to TDV, and may inform efforts to alter social norms and expectations regarding TDV.

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