Experiences with violence in Mexican American and European American high school dating relationships

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5 Scopus citations


Violence in adolescent dating relationships has become increasingly normative in the United States, with the severity of the consequences increasing into adulthood. Minority youths are at an increased risk for experiencing moderate to severe forms of physical dating violence, yet they are less likely to seek professional services. This comparative study of Mexican American (MA) and European American (EA) youths was conducted to understand the lived experience of dating violence within the context of "romance." MA (n = 41) and EA (n = 34) adolescents (M = 16.04 years old, SD =. 83; n = 40 girls) participated in focus groups (n = 12) on dating relationships. In order of saliency, four categories of violence emerged: relational (for example, gossip, intentional harming of a partner's reputation), emotional/verbal (for example, insults, controlling behavior), physical (for example, hitting), and sexual (for example, manipulation or coercion). MA girls were particularly vulnerable and noted experiences with sexual coercion and with emotional/verbal and physical violence, sometimes as the perpetrator. Experiences were contextualized as occurring alongside controlling or manipulative partners. An understanding of how MA and EA adolescents experience distinct types of dating violence should inform culturally relevant dating violence prevention strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-124
Number of pages10
JournalChildren and Schools
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • aggression
  • focus groups
  • girls
  • qualitative
  • teen dating violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Education


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