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Latino Teens Talk About Help Seeking and Help Giving in Relation to Dating Violence

By Beverly Weidmer Ocampo, Gene A Shelley, and Lisa H. Jaycox

This article discusses attitudes of Latino ninth graders about help seeking and help giving in relation to dating violence. Prior to this study, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey had found that 9.8% of teen girls and 9.1% of boys have experienced dating violence. For this study, data were collected through surveys and focus groups conducted in predominately Latino high schools in Los Angeles.  Survey participants were 1,655 teens (65% of Mexican origin); 43 of whom also participated in focus groups.  This study adds to the limited literature that is available regarding dating violence among teens, especially Latino.

  • Prior studies had found that teens who experience IPV do not seek help from services outside family and friends.
  • In this study, both focus groups and survey indicted that most Latino teens do not trust the adults in formal help giving professions (nurses, counselors, etc.) and do not go to them for help when they have problems.
  • Most teens turn to their friends for help and would be most likely to turn to friends if they were in an abusive relationship.
  • Gender differences were found in help seeking.  Girls engage in more actions in response to victimization than do boys and are more likely to talk to friends or family.
  • The findings from both the surveys and the focus group indicate that most teenagers would not immediately intervene if they witnessed an act of violence.
  • The study indicates that there is a strong need to teach skills to teens about what they can do to help themselves and others who are experiencing an abusive relationship.
  • Based on the above findings, it appears that if they seek help at all, Latino teens seek help from their peers.  As a result, a promising avenue for intervention is for programs to use teens as peer educators to teach other teens about the dimensions and prevention of IPV.

Ocampo, B.W., Shelley, G.A., Jaycox, L.H. (2007). “Latino Teens Talk About Help Seeking and Help Giving in Relation to Dating Violence.” Violence Against Women, 13 (2), 172-189. 

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©2007. National Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence.
All Rights Reserved. Last updated 12/13/07.