The Dating Violence among Latino Adolescents (DAVILA) study examined various types of dating violence such as physical, sexual, psychological, and stalking. The study sought to show the prevalence of dating violence in Latino adolescent relationships and to understand the ways victims seek help, whether formally or informally. The study also assessed the impact of dating violence victimization on other forms of victimization.
The sample included 1,525 Latino adolescents from across the country. Nearly one in five said to have experienced a form of dating violence victimization in the past year (19.5%). The most common form of dating violence was psychological (14.8%). Boys were six times more likely to experience physical dating violence than girls. Adolescents that experienced dating violence were most likely to seek help from an informal source (60.7%), while only 15.6% sought out help from a formal source (such as school personnel). Of the 60.7% of victims that sought help from an informal source, 42.9% sought help specifically from friends.
When the results are broken down by gender, the numbers suggest that it is more common for male adolescents to be victimized, but it is less likely that they will reach out for help. Only 5.1% of the Latino males sought formal help, while 35.5% of the Latino females did.
The study’s results also show that those adolescents more connected to their Latino roots were less likely to fall victim to dating violence:
For dating violence in general and physical dating violence victimization specifically, Latino orientation was associated with a decreased odds of experiencing victimization, although it is unclear what underlying mechanisms might explain this phenomenon. Perhaps traditional Latino qualities like family cohesiveness might help prevent victimization, whereas acculturation and running contrary to traditional norms might illicit a backlash that manifests itself in the form of violence. A sense of familial support appears to be crucial in seeking formal help and indicates that having a strong family support system may help ease barriers to getting formal help.
The sample was largely second-generation residents (60.2%), meaning that their parents had immigrated to the US before they were born. This excerpt suggests that strong family supports and a deep connection to one’s heritage could help adolescents avoid violence altogether, or at the very least, seek help when the adolescent encounters violence in dating.
The study’s results echo the call for building strong communities and supporting one another through all levels of dating violence, but it also puts in question standard gender roles. The study shows how boys experience a substantial amount of physical victimization such as slapping, pushing, having possessions broken, and partners forcing sex onto them. This shows how gender norms surrounding adolescent dating violence are inaccurate. If these inaccurate gender roles can be replaced with real knowledge, boys will hopefully seek out help more willingly, whether it be from formal or informal sources. The study also suggests adolescent programs that are gender-specific and culturally relevant that discuss not only physical violence, but also psychological violence in dating.
Read the full report here: https://ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/242775.pdf