Teen Dating Violence and Latinas: Cultural Factors and Communication with Parents
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Background: Latina adolescents are more likely to be the victims of teen dating violence (TDV) than non-Latina White adolescent girls in the United States, (11.5% vs. 8%). A need exists to understand how culture impacts Latina adolescents' ability to communicate about dating violence with their parents and/or other authority figures. Methods: An exploratory qualitative study was conducted with English speaking Latina adolescents, ages 15-19 years, who were attending an urban alternative high school in King County, Washington. Most of the girls were born in the U.S. (55%) and the rest were immigrants, most commonly from Mexico. Almost all the girls' parents emigrated from Latin America. The six focus groups examined participants' knowledge of TDV, how culture impacts TDV, and whether cultural factors affect communication with parents and other authority figures. Results: The participants discussed their knowledge and beliefs, cultural factors, and recommendations for Latina specific prevention programs. The girls were knowledgeable about dating violence. One-half of Latina adolescents had either experienced TDV themselves, or had a family member or close friend who had experienced it. The girls report that cultural issues affect their ability to communicate about dating violence with parents and other authority figures. These cultural factors include biculturalism, collectivism, familism, and machismo. The girls also suggest ways to improve prevention programs and recruit participants. Findings: The findings indicate that cultural factors are an important consideration in Latina adolescent communication with parents and authority figures when it comes to TDV. Latina adolescents would benefit from future TDV prevention programs that are culturally tailored and which address these cultural factors.
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