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Adolescents with friends who experience dating violence are more likely to perpetrate violence against their dating partner (Foshee, Mc Naughton, Reyes, & Ennett, 2010).
Further, media exposure may impact adolescent attitudes surrounding dating violence, specifically the belief that violence is a way to resolve relationship problems (Manganello, 2008; Rivadeneyra & Lebo, 2008).
There is limited research that explores dating violence perceptions and experiences of young adolescents.
Previous qualitative studies have either been retrospective or involved adolescents 14 and older.
Unfortunately, young adolescents may be unaware how to behave in a dating relationship, so they are vulnerable to inaccurate messages from their family of origin, peers and the media (Connolly, Friedlander, Pepler, Craig, & Laporte, 2010).
With respect to family influences, many individuals are socialized that violence is a normal and appropriate response to conflict in intimate family relationships (Hays et al., 2007).
Dating serves as an important developmental milestone as individuals come to understand social and relational goals.
For many, dating begins in adolescence, with an estimated 72% of 11- to 14-year-olds dating before age 14 (Teen Research Unlimited, 2008).
Livingston, Hequembourg, Testa, and Van Zile-Tamsen (2007) found women who had been sexually victimized as adolescents reported the following areas of vulnerability may have contributed to their victimization: lack of guardianship, inexperience with dating, substance use, social and relationship concerns and powerlessness.Due to the severity of negative health outcomes, it is imperative for counselors to understand the experiences of adolescents to facilitate early intervention with this at risk population (Hays et al., 2007).Few studies have given voice to the individuals themselves.Others may believe disclosure would impact their academic performance or lead to disciplinary issues (Moyer & Sullivan, 2008).Survey data indicate that dating violence prevalence rates range from 21 to 80%, depending on type of violence (Cyr, Mc Duff, & Wright, 2006; Harned, 2002; Holt & Espelage, 2005; Sears & Byers, 2010; Wolitzky-Taylor, Ruggiero, Danielson, Resnick, Hanson, & Smith, 2008).