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Dating Violence Among Adolescents

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Description of Psychosocial Issue

What is dating violence? Dating Violence is controlling, abusive, and aggressive behavior in a romantic relationship (Banyard,2008). It includes verbal, nonverbal, emotional, physical, sexual abuse and or a combination. Every relationship is different but what unhealthy and abusive relationships have in common is power and control. Violent words and actions are tools an abusive partner uses to gain and maintain power and control over their partner. Dating Violence is very common. Any young person can experience it. It doesn’t discriminate and can happen to anyone in any relationship. Throughout this literature review risk factors and negative outcomes, prevention and intervention, and the prevalence of DV and victimization are going to be discussed.

There are several risk factors and outcomes when discussing dating violence among adolescents. Some risk factors include pregnancy, substance abuse, poor performance in school, suicidal intentions, a decrease in mental and physical health and entering into violent adult relationships. A few individual risk factors include low self-esteem, anger, and hostility, witnessing violence with parents as a child and low income. Victims of dating violence find struggles in establishing intimacy with a partner, becoming a positive member of society, developing a more effective value system and establishing self-identity as an adult. Abusers that experience DV are more likely to create a pattern of behavior that could affect their relationships later on in life.

Teen Dating Violence can be prevented. Teaching and supporting the development of healthy, respectful, and nonviolent relationships could reduce a lot of dating violence amongst adolescents. Teaching safe and healthy relationship skills, engaging in influential adults and peers, disrupting the developmental pathways of violent relationships, strengthening economic support for families, and supporting survivors to increase safety and lessen harms are all different prevention methods. There are multiple intervention methods that a victim could choose to participate in. There are support groups, mandated educational programs within the school systems, individual therapy, and other important programs. Teens who participate in these programs often report an increase in knowledge about dating violence and a decrease in attitudes that support dating violence (Ball, Kerig, & Rosenbluth, 2009; Clinton-Sherrod et al., 2009; O’Leary et al, 2006). There are also policies in place for Dating Violence.

Approximately 16% of adolescents reported being a victim of dating violence. Females reported a higher prevalence of victimization than males. Maltreatment in school dating connections can set up an example of brutality that may extend into later connections, influence marriage, and have long-lasting consequences. Since the experience of accomplice violence starts, by and large, around 15 and influences 10-35% of school understudies either as exploited people or as culprits, this time of puberty gives a lucky opening to address viciousness and maltreatment in accomplice connections as a significant wellbeing concern (Roscoe & Callahan, 1985; Roscoe & Kelse, 1986; Halpern, Oslak, Young, Martin, & Kupper, 2001). DV is executed by the two people. Violence executed by guys is commonly increasingly extreme with females being around multiple times bound to be killed by a personal accomplice than are guys. There is additional proof that females are more probable than guys to depict their brutal conduct as self-protection in nature, while guys are bound to portray their forceful conduct as persuaded by requirements to scare, control, or pressure.

In Conclusion, research has shown that dating violence among adolescents not only affects your mental capacity but also can affect your physical health and how you transform through your adult life. A social worker needs to study the difficulties of teen dating violence because it’s affecting a lot of our youth today. It’s not only affecting them as youth but also carrying along to the way they think and interact throughout their adult life. No one deserves to experience dating violence. It is also important to increase the policies and programs for intervention and prevention.

Life Development Theory & Afrocentric Perspective

Throughout dating violence among adolescents, many things are transpiring in the lifespan of that victim. The development theory impacts other parts of the life of a teen experiencing dating violence. Erik Erickson was interested in how social interaction and relationships play a role in the development and growth of individuals. He also believed that conflict serves as a turning point in development.

Erickson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development theory has described the impact of social experience across the whole lifespan. The theory applies to dating violence among adolescents through the experience, risk, and negatives outcomes from the violence and how they develop, whether it’s in a negative or positive aspect. Through each psychosocial stage of development, 8 things must be accomplished. The first is trust vs. mistrust which is having a sense of openness. The second is autonomy vs. shame and doubt. That stage is all about gaining a sense of control. The third stage is the initiative vs. guilt. Stage 3 is all about power and control through direct play and social interaction. During the fourth stage industry vs. inferiority, children gaining pride in their accomplishments and abilities should be accomplished. Stage five identity vs. confusion plays an essential role in developing a self-identity which is something that will influence behavior and development that will be carried through the rest of the lifespan. Psychosocial stage 6 intimacy vs. isolation goal is to help people develop close-knitted and committed relationships with others. Those that are successful will grow to build secure relationships. Stage 7 generativity vs. stagnation continues to build on the lives of others and focuses on the career and family. The final stage of Erikson’s theory of integrity vs. despair is the reflection period. Throughout this stage, people reflect on the events that took place throughout life whether they enjoyed it or regret it.

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If the developmental task is completed within the typical period they emerge from the stage with strengths that will help them throughout the rest of their lives. The individual will feel a sense of mastery, which is an ego booster. If the developmental task is not accomplished they may not effectively develop the essential skills needed for strong self-identity. The individual will feel a sense of failure which will destroy one’s confidence.

Adolescents experiencing dating violence face difficulty self-identifying as a victim of its verbal and emotional forms. A lot of the times facing reality is extremely difficult as well as identifying what’s true abuse. Dating violence isn’t just physical. It can be emotional as well as verbal. Experiencing dating violence among adolescents can negatively affect the development of an individual through the lenses of Erickson’s Developmental theory. Starting with stage one trust versus mistrust and stage two autonomy vs shame and doubt a child who is exposed to dating violence generally has disorganized attachment patterns. They struggle with the fear of being alone, sleep disturbances, and aggressive outburst. The child’s perspective is the feeling of being responsible for the traumatic event. Being in and being exposed to an abusive relationship can cause more emotional damage than physical. That easily can create a wall that will shut off your vulnerability and create trust issues with anyone else shortly. During stage three initiative vs guilt, the child faces some insecurity and has unpredictable responses. They have a lack of capacity for emotional self-regulation, upset reaction in response to memory triggers, and reoccurring waking memories. They tend to feel extremely helpless and have difficulty managing physical and emotional responses. Throughout the fourth stage, industry vs inferiority the child struggles with fear and guilt which comes with several different emotions from past thoughts and experiences that are constantly replaying in their head. Stage 5 identity vs. confusion is also another example. During this stage, exposure to dating violence causes some posttraumatic stress reactions. They are extremely angry and combative, have major issues at school both behavior and academic, and self-harming behaviors. They have thoughts of revenge, have feelings of guilt about actions they have either made or witnessed and are more exposed to dangerous situations. This could not only leave you hurt emotionally but it also could leave you confused. One bad experience could ruin it for you and anyone else in your near future. The fear of experiencing the negative outcomes of dating violence could result in a disturbing impact of unsecured relationships, depression, and isolation. For psychological consequences, cognitive and social difficulties are the negative impact and for behavior difficulties through adolescence, adult criminality, substance abuse, and abusive behavior are all negative outcomes from dating violence. All those stages placed behind the lens of dating violence among adolescents influence the normative development of some victims and perpetrators today.

The Afrocentric Perspective is how we view the world. There is one race which is the human race. Concept 8 of the Afrocentric Perspective is the significance of self-knowledge and personal experience. That tenet principle is ‘ the validation of the use of self, that is one’s emotions, lived experiences, and values as a basis for generating knowledge and effecting positive human transformation’ (Wright, D. 2013). The principle applies to date violence among adolescents because there are times where things are very challenging and when things get overwhelming for the victim and it is important that the victim stands strong and heal. The healing process isn’t easy but gaining courage and strength to spread the knowledge of dating violence the awareness could save the next person. Not only that but also never forgetting who you are and what you’re worth. Your self-identity is important and never let anyone try to take that from you. We could apply that principle in social work practice by encouraging self-determination, awareness, maintaining and gaining back self-identity, and being supportive of one’s emotions and the different experiences that take place throughout their lifespan. It could be utilized at the micro, mezzo, and macro level. Whether it’s through direct contact, schools, community or support groups.

Theoretical Understanding

Two theories that can contribute to the understanding of Dating Violence among adolescents are Social Cognitive Theory and Sociocultural Theory. Social Learning Theory was started by Albert Bandura in the 1960s where it later developed into the Social Cognitive Theory. The main focus of this theory is how individuals are shaped by their environment. SCT describes the influence on individual experiences, the actions of others, environmental factors on individual health factors (Boston University School of Public Health, 2019). Sociocultural Theory’s main focus is on the interaction between developing people and the culture of their environment. This theory was created by Lev Vygotsky. Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory also focuses on peer influence on individual learning and how learning takes place (Brainerd, C.J. 1978).

Children are very observant and that doesn’t stop in the adolescent stage. They pick up on their peers’ behavior and the different things that they say. It doesn’t just limit the individuals in their environment it can also go for what is seen on television or the internet. The behavior can very much like be imitated. The behavior is in response to an interaction of nature and nurture. With Dating Violence among adolescents, many perpetrators have once been a victim of dating violence or two have witnessed some sort of violence whether it was between peers or at home. Adolescents that are victims of dating violence have a hard time healing emotionally. Violence and abuse negatively shape their perspective on relationships in the future. It puts them in a place where they instantly create a wall and barrier where it’s hard to open up and be vulnerable with others in intimate relationships.

One culture might teach adolescents that it’s okay to take disrespect in a relationship and it’s okay to verbally and physically abuse your significant other while another culture might teach adolescents that someone who loves you wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize the relationship. Social level is when an individual learns through their interaction in their society. Personal level is when learning is reflected through their life and choices. Dating Violence among adolescents happens in different forms. The socio-cultural factors influence individuals to show abuse in attitudes in relationships, negative and abusive language and abusive behavior, coercive control within the relationship, and the learning of intergenerational transmission.

Social Cognitive Theory and Sociocultural Theory have several strengths and limitations. Some strengths for cognitive theory are the change of the environment can have changed within the child and there are different ways of learning (Bower, G.H. 1975). Two weaknesses the theory can have is ignoring standard milestones and being accountable for one’s actions. Ignoring a standard milestone can be simply ignoring the silent cries out for help and or the behavior of the child. A major strength of sociocultural theory is that it directly impacts issues within the society and family. Another strength is labeling. Labeling can have both a positive and negative outcome in a situation. Some limitations of Sociocultural Theory are adolescents may have narrow or wide zones. Knowing only the width of the zone doesn’t say much about the skill, learning, ability, and development compared to other teens of the same age of situations. This particular limitation is very shut off. The open mind policy is nonexistent.

As a future Social Worker when applying these two theories to dating violence among adolescents I would utilize several intervention methods. First and foremost I would start by providing resources to programs that help victims of dating violence heal effectively. I will also provide different support groups for both the victim and the perpetrator. Perpetrators need some type of counseling as well. Most of the time the perpetrator has been abused or has seen different forms of violence. There could be some prevention programs placed as a curriculum in schools that way adolescents can be properly educated.


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