Who to Turn to? Help-Seeking in Response to Teen Dating Violence Among Latinos

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Abstract

Objective:

Though Latinos are the largest minority in the United States, they are not well represented in teen dating violence research. The current study fills this gap by using a national sample of Latino teens to examine 1) rates of formal and informal help-seeking among Latino teens who experienced dating violence, 2) reasons for not seeking help, and 3) cultural predictors of help-seeking (i.e., immigrant status, acculturation, and familism).

Method:

Data came from the Dating Violence among Latino Adolescents (DAVILA) study that surveyed 1,525 Latino teens and their caregivers across the United States, 6.2% (n = 95) of which experienced specific forms of physical, sexual and/or stalking dating violence. Telephone interviews were conducted with caregivers and their 12- to 18-year-old Latino teens.

Results:

Sixty-one percent of victims sought informal help (most commonly from friends) and 16% sought formal help (most commonly from school personnel). The most common reason for not seeking help was “I didn't think of it.” Logistic regression analyses revealed that girls and those with higher scores on familism were more likely to seek formal help.

Conclusions:

Efforts to prevent dating violence and/or intervene in dating violence relationships need further development, including addressing the gendered nature of help-seeking, addressing barriers to services when needed, and building on strengths such as familism and positive social networks.

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