Saturday, January 23, 2016

Teens’ Self-Efficacy to Deal with Dating Violence as Victim, Perpetrator or Bystander

Multiple studies have demonstrated that adolescent dating violence is highly prevalent and associated with internalizing and externalizing problems. A number of prevention initiatives are being implemented in North-American high schools. Such initiatives do not only aim to raise awareness among potential victims and offenders but also among peer bystanders. Since teenagers mainly reach out to their peers when experiencing adversity, it is important to address adolescents’ efficiency to deal with witnessing dating violence or with friends disclosing dating abuse, in addition to increasing ability to deal with experienced dating violence victimization or perpetration. 

The aim of this study is to explore adolescents’ self-efficacy to deal with dating violence victimization and perpetration in their relationships and those of their peers. A paper-and-pencil questionnaire was completed by 259 14–18 years olds in Quebec, Canada. The data allows building insight into adolescents’ confidence to reach out for help or to help others in a situation of dating violence victimization and perpetration. We also considered the impact of gender and dating victimization history. 

Results suggest that dating violence prevention can build on teens’ self-efficacy to deal with dating violence and offer them tools to do so efficiently.

...Girls generally report higher self-efficacy to deal with having witnessed or experienced DV than boys, as suggested by Banyard and colleagues (; ). While boys paint a positive picture of their competence to seek help for themselves or others when confronted with DV, they feel less confident than girls. Our results further demonstrate that girls feel most confident to encourage a victim of DV to talk to someone they trust, while boys feel most confident they could intervene when they witness someone being hit. Overall, male teenagers seem to have less difficulty in directly intervening or to act as opposed to talking to someone, whether it concerns something that happens to them or to another. Girls do not present diminished self-efficacy when it comes to verbal skills. This concords with findings based on adult samples of male bystanders to be more likely to engage in heroic and risky behaviour to help others in need, while women prefer more nurturing strategies (; ). Also, male respondents in our sample indicate to be least likely to tell on someone who is abusing their partner. Adolescent male tolerance for DV perpetration was also highlighted by .

Secondly, since boys seem to feel less confident than girls when confronted with DV, prevention programs, irrespective of their focus on potential victims and perpetrators or on potential bystanders, should pay particular attention to boosting boys’ confidence to deal with DV (). Particular attention should be paid to their verbal or communication skills. Teenage males feel most confident that they could intervene but present lower self-efficacy as far as talking to someone is concerned. While girls are more inclined to talk to someone, boys are more prone to take action, such as intervening when someone is hit. As such, they may put themselves more at risk of harm by getting involved in a violent situation. Prevention programs need to address dangers of direct interventions by witnesses and offer alternative helping behaviors, such as talking to the victim or reporting violence to an adult. Thirdly, we observed a male tolerance for gendered violence in the form of a lower sense of self-efficacy to tell on a perpetrator among their peers. Although self-efficacy to inform someone about a friend abusing their partner is positive among boys, it received the lowest score in the self-efficacy scale. It therefore justifies highlighting the need to address it in bystander education programs, as already suggested by  as well as by . They remark that through bystander education one strives to raise awareness and reduce tolerance for gendered violence, which might in turn dissuade teens from verbally or physically assaulting peers...

Full article at:

By:  Tinneke Van Camp,1 Martine Hébert,2 Elisa Guidi,2,3 Francine Lavoie,4 Martin Blais,2 and the members of the PAJ Team
1School of law, University of Sheffield, UK
2Department of sexology, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada
3Department of psychology, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy
4School of psychology, Université Laval, Canada

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