Changing Your Status in a Changing World

Changing Your Status in a Changing World

Chapter 1 Changing Your Status in a Changing World: It Is Complicated! A Developmental Systems Framework for Understanding Dating Violence in Adolesc...

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Chapter 1

Changing Your Status in a Changing World: It Is Complicated! A Developmental Systems Framework for Understanding Dating Violence in Adolescents and Young Adults Bonnie Leadbeater1, Jennifer Connolly2, and Jeff R. Temple3 1

Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada, 2Department of Psychology, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada, 3Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) Health, Galveston, TX, United States

Research on the romantic relationships of adolescents and young adults has burgeoned in the last decade (see reviews by; Collins, Welsh, & Furman, 2009; Fincham & Cui, 2011; Wincentak, Connolly, & Card, 2017). The formation of healthy romantic relationships in adolescence and young adulthood can advance later family formation, parenting capacity, economic security, mental health, social support, and adaptive responses to stressful life events (Collins et al., 2009; Karney, Beckett, Collins, & Shaw, 2007). These relationships do not, however, emerge fully formed in adolescence. Rather the developmental bases of romantic relationships can be found much earlier in the relational contexts and ecological systems of young people as they grow and change over time. Healthy long-term relationships leading to family formation typically emerge from prior experiences of supportive relationships within adaptive contexts. Conversely, unhealthy relationships often follow from multiple early partnerships that are characterized by emotionally painful interactions including breakups and aggression that may echo prior aggressive parenting and peer relationships (Leadbeater, Sukhawathanakul, Holfeld, & Temple, 2017).

Adolescent Dating Violence. DOI: © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.



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ROMANTIC DEVELOPMENT: AGES AND STAGES There is considerable agreement that engagement in romantic relationships (Collins, et al., 2009) increases rapidly across adolescence, and is essentially normative by age 15 (Furman & Rose, 2015). National data from the United States indicate that 25% of 12-year olds, 50% of 15-year olds, and 70% of 18-year olds report having had a special romantic relationship in the past 18 months (Carver, Joyner, & Udry, 2003). The forms, functions, and positive and negative consequences of romantic relationships shift with age (Collins et al., 2009; Connolly, Nguyen, Pepler, Craig, & Jiang, 2013; Golden, Furman, & Collibee, 2016; Rauer, Pettit, Lansford, Bates & Dodge, 2013). Typically, in early adolescence, romantic relationships are short term and based on romantic affiliations, common activities, and exploration of sexual interests and behaviors; whereas more enduring, intimate couples’ attachments tend to be begin in mid to late adolescence and early adulthood (Collins et al. 2009; Connolly et al., 2013). In fact, there are many developmental differences in characteristics of dating relationships from early adolescence to young adulthood—i.e., in age or timing, length, quality, risk and rewards, and in the meaning of breakups or dissolutions. However, these developmental differences are only rarely considered in studies of the frequency, quality, and consequences of dating aggression or violence. Further complicating this picture, developmental changes in dating relationships are also occurring in the context of rapid changes in the social context of adolescent sexuality including changes in acceptance of a variety of sexual behaviors (e.g., pornography and sexting; Harden, 2014), relationships with partners (e.g., “hooking up”; Kuperberg & Padgett, 2015; Rowley & Hertzog, 2016), as well as the increasing salience of Internet and cell phone technology on adolescent dating and sexual experiences (Underwood & Ehrenreich, 2017). From a developmental perspective it is likely that estimated rates of dating violence vary widely from adolescence into young adulthood, but age-based descriptions of rates of dating violence across this developmental transition are typically lacking. Focusing on the adolescent age group, a metaanalysis of dating violence suggests that physical aggression affects about 1 in 5 of adolescent dating relationships and sexual aggression affects 1 in 10 (Wincentak et al., 2017). However, substantial variation in rates across the studies included in the metaanalysis were also revealed, ranging from 1% to 61%. This variability is most likely due to differences in measurement of dating violence, types of dating violence included in the study, and the at-risk nature of the sample of adolescents. For example, the National Institutes of Justice, using a single-item index of dating violence, found that that 1 in 10 dating youths in grades 9 12 reported being a victim of physical violence ( teen-dating-violence/Pages/prevalence.aspx). The National Youth Risk

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Behavior Surveillance System (1999 2011) shows stability in a 12-year prevalence rate of physical violence in high school students with similar rates of 9.4% for males and 9.2% for females (Rothman & Xuan, 2014). In a more recent study that included physical, psychological, and sexual abuse (Ybarra, Espelage, Langhinrichsen-Rohling, Korchmaros, & Boyd, 2016) the authors reported victimization and perpetration rates for youth aged 14 21 years. Specifically, 51% of females and 43% of males reported being victimized by at least one of the three types of dating abuse and 50% of females and 35% of males reported perpetrating at least one type of dating abuse. Finally, consistent with the idea that certain groups of youths are more prone to aggressive interactions than others, a recent metaanalysis of females with mental health problems, homelessness, or child welfare involvement, revealed dating violence rates of 34% for victimization and 45% for perpetration (Joly & Connolly, 2016). These prevalence rates likely represent a high water mark for youth dating violence with rates peaking around the age of 20 years and declining slowly thereafter (Johnson, Manning, Giordano, & Longmore, 2015). Developmentally the early adult years are thus a period in which rates of interpersonal violence are higher than at any other life stage (Statistics Canada, 2008; Taylor, Mumford, & Lui, 2016). Risk factors for dating violence are seen to converge at this stage of life and highlight the adolescent and young adult period may be critical for determining both vulnerability and resistance to aggressive patterns in romantic relationships (Goodnight et al., 2017).

TRAJECTORIES OF DATING VIOLENCE OVER TIME Longitudinal studies investigating the effects of individual, family, or peer aggression on romantic relationship violence in late adolescence tend to focus on physical violence (Dardis, Dixon, Edwards, & Turchik, 2015; Foshee et al., 2013; Reyes, Foshee, Bauer, & Ennett, 2012; Shortt et al., 2012). However, there is some evidence that there are complimentary pathways among the different types of dating violence, and more specifically, relational aggression may precede physical violence in adolescence (Cornelius & Resseguie, 2007). Experiences as perpetrators or victims of these varying types of aggression are also typically correlated. Trajectories of physical aggression against peers typically declines in young adulthood (making occurrences of physical aggression in any relationship less likely and perhaps more aberrant), whereas relational aggression and victimization is stable or may increase across this age span, particularly for males (Leadbeater, Thompson, & Sukhawathanakul, 2014). Age-linked changes in physical versus nonphysical interpersonal violence suggest the need for a stronger research focus on nonphysical forms of aggression in romantic relationships. It is also possible that nonphysical forms of dating violence are precursors to physical violence and could be targets for preventive


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interventions. Indeed, unhealthy romantic relationships can be characterized by a variety of negative behaviors targeting a partner including anger and emotional abuse, disrespect, isolation and exclusion from friends and family, threats and intimidation, blaming, humiliating, and forced sex. These behaviors can also compromise behaviors that sustain and enhance relationships including respect, safety, communication, autonomy, trust, and fun.

DEVELOPMENTAL SYSTEMS PERSPECTIVE In this chapter, we argue that a developmental systems perspective is essential for understanding dating violence during the adolescent and young adult years. This perspective is grounded in an ecological systems framework (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998) that suggests that dating violence is the outcome of cumulating risk factors within and across multiple contexts of development (Connolly, Friedlander, Pepler, Craig, & Laporte, 2010; Novak & Furman, 2016). Individual characteristics, family and peer relationships, and societal influences all act in concert to either promote healthy relationships or, conversely, lead to relationships with conflict and violence. This picture is further complicated by the developmental changes that are taking place in relationships and across contexts. Thus predicting and explaining adolescent dating violence requires a consideration of different forms of dating aggression (physical, psychological, relational, controlling), at different developmental stages (early, mid, and late adolescence and young adulthood) across different phases of a given relationship (onset, maintenance, and dissolution). These developmental differences are also occurring in the societal context of rapidly evolving sexual behavioral norms and evolving social media technologies that can have marked effects on dating. Recent changes in “normative” dating behaviors (e.g., early sexual experimentation, oral sex, “hook ups,” sexting, combining sex, and alcohol use) can complicate even the definition of dating. Changes in cultural and communication contexts also affect both the private and public face of dating and dating violence (including social media; cell phones, instant messaging, image apps, access to pornography, and ready access to streaming video). Finally, a developmental systems framework considers how the predictors of dating violence might be sequenced across time and age (Capaldi & Shortt, 2003; Connolly et al, 2010; Johnson et al., 2017). This implies that distal influences occurring earlier in development, such as parenting practices, lead to influences that are more proximal in development, such as peer aggression, which may ultimately predict dating violence. Using this developmental systems perspective, we review recent research on the contributions of individual characteristics as well as experiences in peer and parenting relationships to dating violence in adolescence and young adulthood. We also review research that examines the cumulative impact of

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multiple influences across contexts and levels of development. To set the stage for this we first highlight the need for a greatly expanded understanding of the changing features and contexts of adolescent dating as they may contribute to dating violence.

THE DEVELOPMENTAL CHANGES IN DATING RELATIONSHIPS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR DATING VIOLENCE Early adolescence is a time of dramatic growth in sexual identity formation and strivings, as well as the capacity for intimacy in relationships (Pepler, 2006). Sullivan (1953) described a shift in adolescents’ capacity for interpersonal intimacy as evolving from a focus on what one can do to enhance their own prestige and feelings of superiority compared with their friends, to a growing capacity in adolescence for collaboration. Collaboration involves adjusting ones’ behaviors to respond to the question “What should I do to contribute to the happiness or to support the prestige and feelings of worthwhileness of my chum” (Sullivan, 1953, p. 245). Self-disclosure increases and friends share personal concerns, desires, and beliefs and can affirm each other’s self-worth (Buhrmester, 1996; Hartup, 2005). Growing sensitivity to peer regard and emerging skills in perspective taking and self-disclosure can also fuel relationship problems such as jealousy, conflict, in-group and outgroup cliques, heightened awareness of rejection and neglect, and vulnerability to power and status imbalances (Desjardins & Leadbeater, 2011). Consistent with developmental advances in early adolescent’s capacities for perspective taking, conflict resolution, and intimacy, the quality of romantic relationships appears to shift in mid-adolescence. In early adolescence, romantic partnerships focus mainly on shared activities, expectations of the peer network, and promised status, whereas concerns about intimacy and compatibility characterize relationships of older adolescents (Connolly et al., 2013). Negotiating romantic relationships—both healthy and unhealthy aspects—in the course of the developmental transitions of early adolescence may present different challenges than those incurred as strong emotional attachments and caring become the foundation for these relationships. These challenges change again in young adulthood as romantic attachments become interwoven with social networks, cohabitation, and economic interdependence. The consequences of these developmental differences in relationships for the occurrence, consequences, and responses to dating violence differ greatly. Romantic relationships themselves can begin with considerable idealization of one’s partner, followed by the gradual discovery of the realities of personal flaws and differences that each person brings to the relationship. In most cases adolescent relationships are short, lasting only a few months (Furman & Shomaker, 2008) and dissolutions are inevitable. While unwanted breakups may lie at the foundation of stalking and violence in adult


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relationships, little research has assessed ways in which skills in managing breakups and dissolutions affect dating violence in adolescence. Reasons given for breakups may also change from early adolescences’ concerns related to affiliation (fun, boredom) and autonomy (too close too soon) to increasing concerns about intimacy (communication and closeness) and infidelity and jealousy in later adolescence (Bravo, Connolly, & McIsaac, 2017). Despite their inevitability, even breakups, albeit of short-term relationships can be humiliating, painful, and unexpected. Difficulties in accepting breakups can be enhanced when they occur in an idealization phase of a relationship, when the relationship coincides with sexual debut (particularly for girls), or when there is no consensus in ending the relationship. Internet and text message breakups allow for both abrupt endings and continued hopeful connections as relationships end (Underwood & Ehrenreich, 2017). The length of relationships is also positively associated with greater risk for violence in adolescence and young adulthood (Leadbeater et al., 2017; Roberts, Auinger, & Klein, 2006). This is particularly concerning given that emotional, practical, and economic costs of terminating a relationship increase over time. The developmental timing of relationships may also contribute to differences in dating violence. Research shows that, despite some benefits provided to early daters by increases in status with peers and well-being, early onset of dating relationships and sexual debut are implicated in a number of risks and negative outcomes (Furman & Collibee, 2014b). While the direction of these effects is rarely studied, these problems may also already be evident in early adolescence.

BULLYING, DATING VIOLENCE, AND SPOUSAL VIOLENCE—CONVERGING INFLUENCES ACROSS CHILDHOOD, ADOLESCENCE, AND YOUNG ADULTHOOD Current theory and research has illuminated many risk and protective factors located in proximal social context such as parent, peer, and community influences on dating violence associated with physical dating violence in adolescents’ romantic relationships (see Dardis et al., 2015; Smith, Greenman, Thornberry, Henry, & Ireland, 2015 and Chapter 2: Theories on the Causation of Partner Abuse Perpetration). Research that examines the cascading, converging, and interacting influences of individual, peer, and parent risk and protective factors is clearly needed to better understand the mechanisms linking these concerns over time and across generations to dating violence in adolescence and young adulthood. For example, Capaldi and colleagues (1998, 2003) theorized a model of dating violence that originates in unskilled parenting and parent antisocial behavior that can promote adolescent conduct problems. These behaviors, in turn, are hypothesized to increase associations with deviant peer networks from which dating partners

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(with similarly poor relationship skills) are selected, which enhance the intergenerational transfer of partner violence. However, Theoretical models are needed to guide the specification and testing of pathways of cooccurring vulnerabilities and risk and protective factors that may precede dating violence, as well as moderating contextual factors that increase the likelihood of maladaptive behaviors and negative individual and interpersonal outcomes (Capaldi et al., 2003; Williams, Connolly, Pepler, Craig, & Laporte, 2008). Similarly the converging influences of exposure to parent adolescent and peer aggression and lack of parent monitoring on the development of adolescent’s own aggression and participation in deviant behaviors could enhance the likelihood that adolescents may select dating partners from aggressive peer networks and hold beliefs that aggression is normative in close relationships (Leadbeater et al., 2017). Finally, it is likely that dispositional characteristics of the young person can shape their susceptibility to negative family and peer influences, as has been shown recently in a longitudinal study of youth with difficult childhood temperament (Johnson et al., 2017). Addressing the complexity of influences on adolescent dating may need a multipronged approach that, in particular, emphasizes what to expect from healthy, respectful relationships, and how to end relationships that deviate from these expectations. Individual risk factors. The cross-sectional associations between individuals’ own aggressive behaviors and beliefs and their aggression in their romantic relationships are well established (see review by Olsen, Parra & Bennett, 2010). However, correlates of adolescent aggression including internalizing symptoms and negative cognitive attributions or behaviors that may mediate this relationship are typically not controlled. Considerable research shows that qualities of adolescents’ romantic relationships are correlated with depressive symptoms in adolescence, (see review by Davila, 2011). While it is often thought that early romantic relationships may lead to increases in depression, longitudinal studies also give support for the opposite direction of this effect in older youth, especially for males (Furman & Collibee, 2014a). Vujeva and Furman (2011) followed a sample of 188 youth from middle adolescence to emerging adulthood and found that having more depressive symptoms at 15 years of age was associated with increases in relationship conflict and with less growth in positive problem solving. However, the effects of these relationship qualities (conflict and positive problem solving) on increases in depressive symptoms were not significant. Sex differences were also not found in this study. Similarly, Hankin, Mermelstein, and Roesch (2007) found that higher initial levels of depression contributed to increases in reports of romantic stressful events (assessed three times across a 7-day period) in adolescents aged 13 18 years. La Greca and Harrison (2005) found that relational victimization and negative qualities of best friendships and romantic relationships were associated with depressive symptoms in adolescents aged 14 19 years. Goldstein,


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Chesir-Teran, and McFaul (2008) found that young adults categorized as high in relational aggression or victimization in their romantic relationships were more likely to worry about losing the relationship and had higher levels of symptoms of anxiety and depression. Females reported more perpetration and males reported more victimization, however, sex differences in these associations were not significant. In a short-term longitudinal study of Grade 9 students, Ellis, Crooks, and Wolfe (2009) found that beyond peer relational aggression and victimization and dating relational aggression, dating relational victimization was associated with increases in depressive symptoms for girls but not boys. Distinctive mediators and moderators of aggression or victimization and increases in depressive symptoms have not been adequately studied. For example, given typically moderate correlations between depressive symptoms and externalizing problems like aggression in adolescence, it may also be necessary to control for the effects of externalizing problems on the association between partner violence and depressive symptoms. It is also possible that other mechanisms, such as stressful events, dysphoric fears of abandonment, or ruminations about a partner’s commitment, explain the association between depression and victimization in relationships (Hankin et al., 2007; Leadbeater, Kuperminc, Blatt, & Hertzog, 1999). Peer risk factors. Consistent with past reviews (Collins, 2003; Giordano, Soto, Manning, & Longmore, 2010), longitudinal research confirms the association of positive peer relationships and romantic relationships quality in young adulthood (Connolly, Furman, & Konarski, 2000; Donnellan, LarsenRife, & Conger, 2005). After controlling for both family violence and parent adolescent interactions, Linder and Collins’ (2005) study showed that higher quality peer friendships at age 16 years predicted less physical aggression perpetration in romantic relationships at age 21, but not at age 23. Better friendship quality predicted less physical victimization at both ages. Longitudinal research also shows that adolescents’ experiences with bullying and aggressive peers are related to their use of physical aggression in romantic relationships (e.g., Foshee, et al., 2015; Niolon et al., 2015; Peters Hatzenbuehler, Davidson, 2015) and these findings held even after considering the effects of individual aggression and parent parent adolescent hostility (Leadbeater et al., 2017; Stocker & Richmond, 2007). Research also supports the association between relational aggression with peers and dating aggression (Jouriles, Garrido, Rosenfield, & McDonald, 2009; Leadbeater, Banister, Ellis, & Yeung, 2008; Linder, Crick, & Collins, 2002; Schad, Szwedo, Antonishak, Hare, & Allen, 2008). Studies of the mechanism linking peer and dating aggression have also been undertaken. For example, a 1-year longitudinal study of Canadian adolescents in Grades 9 12 suggests that the socializing effects of aggressive peer contexts may operate by enhancing adolescents’ attitudes toward the acceptance of aggression, which then spills over into romantic relationships

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(Williams et al., 2008). Peers may also be involved in dating as confidants or participants in conflict, which can play a role in increasing or reducing the abuse (Adelman & Kil, 2007). Cutbush and colleagues (2016) argue that bullying with peers may generalize to sexual harassment in middle school age youth as gender identity and orientation emerge as salient developmental concerns and that forms of interpersonal violence subsequently generalize to dating relationships as youth become more involved in mix-sexed groups. Findings of their 2-year study with seventh grade students showed that bullying and sexual harassment were each linked independently to subsequent dating violence. However, bullying did not predict sexual harassment and findings held for females but not males. In a study of youth ages 12 to 18 who were followed over 6 years, Woodin, Sukhawathanakul, Caldeira, Homel, and Leadbeater (2016) also found that victimization and bullying were linked to dating aggression through chronic and episodic substance use. Specifically, path analyses indicated that early peer relational and physical aggression each uniquely predicted later romantic relational aggression. Concurrent heavy episodic drinking fully mediated this effect for peer physical aggression only. Contextual factors linking bullying and dating violence have also been suggested (Connolly et al., 2010). For example, the transfer of peer aggression to dating relationships is more likely if youth select their romantic partners mainly from their immediate peer group. However, Kreager and colleagues (2016), with a sample of eighth and ninth graders, found that romantic partners were more likely to be selected from outside of peer friendship networks and suggest this could help to regulate jealousy within high school networks. The network influences of aggressive or delinquent groups may differ from those found in normative samples. For example, Casey and Beadnell (2010) found that males in small, dense, mostly male peer networks with higher levels of delinquent behavior reported higher rates of subsequent physical dating violence perpetration. Low and Espelage (2013) similarly found that physical aggression was most likely to occur in smaller, predominantly male networks. In cross-sectional research, college students who reported greater alienation from peers reported more relational victimization and aggression in their current romantic relationships (Linder et al., 2002). Finally, it is important to note that broader social influences can impact pathways to dating violence. Connolly and associates (2010, 2013) have shown that exposure to aggressive media influences dating violence by shaping the cultural context of peer and dating relationships. Parenting risk factors. Research also shows that positive parenting (e.g., communication and monitoring) are associated with reduced risk for dating violence (Leadbeater et al., 2008; Mumford, Liu, & Taylor, 2016). However, exposure to interparental aggression has been consistently linked to dating violence, and negative parent adolescent interactions are also salient mediators in the intergenerational transmission of violence (see review by Olsen


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et al., 2010). Attachment and social learning theories are used to explain the intergenerational transmission of relationship disruption and violence; however, more research supporting these explanations is needed. A number of parenting behaviors have also been suggested as mediators that aggravate or ameliorate the association between interparental aggression and teen dating violence, including parental negativity about their teen’s dating (Giordano, Johnson, Manning, & Longmore, 2016), parental monitoring (Leadbeater et al., 2008), attitudes about violence (Temple, Shorey, Tortolero, Wolfe, & Stuart, 2013), and parent teen communication (Kast, Eisenberg, & Sieving, 2016). For example, research on relational victimization and aggression in romantic relationships also shows links to parental enmeshment, over involvement, and psychological control (Leadbeater et al., 2008; Linder et al., 2002). With a sample of 114 college students, Linder et al. (2002) found that higher perceived alienation from mothers was correlated with romantic relational aggression. Notably, higher levels of perceived communication (interpreted as over involvement) with fathers was also correlated with dating violence. With a community sample of 149 Canadian adolescents aged 12 19 years, Leadbeater et al. (2008) found that mothers’ (but not fathers’) psychological control was associated with more relational aggression in romantic relationships. Parental psychological control involves the manipulation of adolescents’ thoughts and feelings and restriction of their autonomy and independence through love withdrawal, ignoring, shaming, or guilt induction (Barber, 1996). The effects of negative parent adolescent relationships on later romantic relationships are also supported by longitudinal research. Controlling for early family violence, Linder and Collins (2005) found that intrusive or overly familiar (quasiseductive) behaviors, coded from videotapes of American parents’ interactions with their adolescents aged 13 years, predicted youths’ physical aggression and victimization in early adult romantic relationships. Using six waves of data from a sample of German youth aged 12 17 years, Seiffge-Krenke, Overbeek, and Vermulst (2010) found that distant father adolescent relationships (low in both positive and negative effect relative to a normative sample) predicted emotional extremes and jealousy in romantic relationships aged between 21 and 23 years. In addition to observed hostility in parents’ marital relationships the quality of parent adolescent relationships predicted hostility in adolescents’ romantic relationships 3 years later among a sample of adolescents aged 12 14 years (Stocker & Richmond, 2007). In addition, Cui, Durtschi, Donnellan, Lorenz, and Conger (2010) found that the influence of parent verbal and physical aggression on romantic relational aggression in young adulthood was partially mediated by parents’ aggression toward the adolescent. Although few gender differences have been found, one study by Kinsfogel and Grych (2004) reported that adolescent males who were exposed to parental conflict were more likely

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than their female counterparts to perceive aggression as justifiable and to report higher levels of verbal and physical aggression in their romantic relationships.

THE EFFECTS OF SOCIAL AND CULTURAL CONTEXTS ON DATING NORMS AND DATING VIOLENCE The Internet and cell phones ironically provide new arenas for communication and privacy for dating relationships to unfold and at the same time provide avenues for unwanted distribution of intimate photos (sexting) and intimate partner cyberbullying. Similarly, text- and image-sharing apps can create expectations in romantic relationships that can enhance safety, connections, and intimacy; or can facilitate intrusive monitoring, confusing communications, and unwanted break ups (Underwood & Ehrenreich, 2017). The Internet also opens access to sexualized media and pornography that can influence unwelcomed sexual behaviors and violent sexual attitudes and behaviors (Greenfield, 2004). Our understanding of both the positive and negative impacts of these technologies on dating norms and violence lags behind other research on adolescent and young adult relationships. Consequently the field struggles with the creation of new methodologies to investigate these forms of communication in romantic relationships; however, as shown in the research reviewed next, research and new research questions are rapidly emerging that demonstrate the impact of technology on adolescent and young adult romantic relationships.

DATING AND DATING VIOLENCE IN THE DIGITAL AGE In fact, 10 years ago this would have been the end of this chapter. However, the advent and ubiquity of smartphones and social media outlets allowed for new forms of abuse (cyber dating violence), easy and ready access to pornography, as well as novel opportunities for sexual exploration, including “hooking up” through apps like Tinder and Grinder and sending or receiving naked pictures or videos (sexting). To be clear, dating violence, casual sexual partners, and pornography are not new; however, instant and constant access via smartphones and the Internet has changed dating and interactions with intimate partners. Indeed, some have argued that “hooking up” is more prevalent than dating on college campuses (Bradshaw, Kahn, & Saville, 2010), and accumulating research indicates that hook up apps may contribute to risky sexual behavior and increases in sexually transmitted infections (Sawyer, Smith, & Benotsch, 2017). Teens and young adults, more than any other age group, use technology to communicate (Jones & Fox, 2009). The typical adolescent uses the Internet daily (many constantly), owns or has access to a smartphone, sends 60 texts per day, and accesses multiple social media sites (e.g., SnapChat,


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Instagram) (Jones & Fox, 2009; Lenhart, 2015). Thus teens and young adults have access to various modes of seeking and sharing information with virtually constant access to peers. While benefits for communication, planning, and caring can accompany this access (Lee, 2009), the minimal privacy resulting from technological advances can also facilitate unhealthy relationship behaviors (King-Ries, 2011). Cyber Dating Abuse. Defined as “the control, harassment, stalking, and abuse of one’s dating partner via technology and social media” (Zweig, Lachman, Yahner, & Dank, 2014, p. 1306), cyber dating abuse is prevalent in teen and young adult dating relationships. Accumulating research suggests that approximately 25% and 15% of teens report being victims and perpetrators, respectively, of cyber dating abuse (Temple et al., 2016; Zweig, Dank, Yahner, & Lachman, 2013). Even higher rates were identified in a sample of more than 4200 ninth-grade students across 11 states, where 56% reported cyber dating abuse victimization and 29% endorsed perpetration (Cutbush, Ashley, Kan, Hampton, & Hall, 2010). Similar to in-person dating violence, the varying rates of perpetration and victimization are likely due to differences in samples and measures used. Specific cyber dating abuse acts may depend on the age of victims or perpetrators, and can include using mobile phones and text messaging to monitor a partner’s activities, going through a partner’s messages without their knowledge, leaving threatening voice and text messages for a partner, threatening to harm a partner if he or she did not respond to a message, sexual cyber abuse (e.g., receiving unwanted sexually explicit photos or text messages from a partner), or posting insulting or threatening content about a partner publicly online (Draucker & Martsolf, 2010; Zweig et al., 2013). Consequences of cyber dating abuse mirror those found for in-person dating violence. Indeed researchers have argued that it may be an extension of in-person behaviors with one longitudinal study finding that being a victim of physical dating abuse was predictive of becoming a victim of cyber dating abuse 1 year later (Temple et al., 2016). Despite the fact that they may cooccur, cyber dating abuse clearly differs from in-person dating violence in that perpetrators have constant access to their victims (even after the relationship ends), can humiliate or threaten their partner to an unlimited number of people, and the abuse (e.g., posting an insult or intimate picture) is more permanent, easily accessible, and shareable (Dick et al., 2014; Draucker & Martsolf, 2010). The effects of this on the mental health and future relationships of victims and perpetrators needs to be better understood. Moreover as reporting sexual harassment and abuse becomes more prevalent (e.g., as seen in the #MeToo Movement) and these behaviors become less acceptable in adult relationships, we may also see shifts away from willingness to document and share these kinds of actions online. Sexting. Sending naked or seminaked pictures via smartphones, through texting or apps like SnapChat, has become commonplace among teens and

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young adults. From early adolescence through young adulthood, rates of sexting increase with age and dating experiences. Rice and colleagues (2012) found that 5% and 20% of middle school students sent or received a sext, respectively. A study of ethnically diverse high school students found that 28% of males and females sent a naked picture of themselves (Temple et al., 2012). Rates are substantially higher in college students with studies generally finding that about half of students have sexted (Benotsch, Snipes, Martin, & Bull, 2013). Gordon-Messer and colleagues (2013) found that sexting is generally reciprocal in nature among emerging adults, in that they report both sending and receiving sexts. Notably today’s emerging adults have “grown up” in the digital age, and their ready access to smartphones and the Internet has marked the advent of a new mechanism for intimate interpersonal exchanges. While studies consistently find that sexting is a reliable predictor of actual sexual behavior (Temple et al., 2013; Klettke, Hallford, & Mellor, 2014), there is little agreement on its relation to other health behaviors. In fact, when done willingly, sexting may be considered a modern day version of courting and dating. However, just like actual sexual behavior, when coerced or used as a vehicle for abuse, sexting appears to be related to negative health outcomes (Choi, Ouytsel, & Temple, 2016). Pornography. While access to explicit sexualized materials and pornography has long been possible for youth and, indeed, may serve as a source of much desired and sought after knowledge about sex and sexuality, the Internet now provides unbridled access to pornography. Research with adolescents has been conducted mainly in European countries—in part due to reluctance of gatekeepers (school, parents) on asking questions about sexual practices in North America (e.g., Bonino, Ciairano, Rabaglietti, & Cattelino, 2006). An Italian study of adolescents with a mean age of 18 years, found that for male students, 45% were exposed to nonviolent material and 45% were exposed to violent or degrading material and for female students, 20% were exposed to nonviolent material and 19% were exposed to violent or degrading material (Romito & Beltramini, 2015). This gender difference persists across studies. Summarizing the evidence for a Congressional Committee in 2004, Greenfield (p. 741) concluded that “pornography and related sexual media (file sharing) can influence sexual violence, sexual attitudes moral values, and sexual activity of children and youth.” With this increased and ready access to pornography, even when by accident (Rothman, in press), teens and emerging adults face a changing landscape of what may be perceived to be normative, and one that may be associated with unwanted demands for sexual behaviors and dating violence. Negotiating sexuality and consent is also likely increasingly complicated by these changes, which strengthens the need for greater education on sexual selfefficacy and agency in healthy dating relationships.


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CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR RESEARCH AND INTERVENTION Although dating behaviors typically emerge in early to mid-adolescence; early experiences with parents, siblings, peers, and the environment contribute to how and with whom youth interact with future intimate partners. Exposure to violence between parents or in the community has been consistently linked to both dating violence perpetration and victimization. Youth who experience bullying are also more likely to experience later dating violence. Developmentally, children may learn that violence is an acceptable means of resolving conflict and use this strategy in later relationships with peers and intimate partners. However, protective factors (e.g., prosocial role models, holding disapproving attitudes about violence) can support healthy relationships and attenuate the negative impact of this exposure. Considering that early and ongoing experiences are predictive of relationship behaviors, including dating violence, we stress the need for health- and relationship-promoting programs to begin in early childhood and continue to and through young adulthood. Programs targeting elementary school-aged children could focus on socio-emotional learning with a particular emphasis on addressing adverse childhood experiences. Programs for middle and high school-aged children could focus more specifically on promoting healthy interpersonal and sex positive partnerships (Harden, 2014), including teaching relationship skills (e.g., communication, respect, conflict resolution), sex positive behaviors (e.g., efficacy, agency, autonomy, and consent), and coping with the strong emotions engendered in the negotiation of intimate relationships (e.g., dissolution, stress, and jealousy). In young adulthood, these programs also need to focus on aspects critical in more serious relationships, including cohabitation, shared beliefs and values, and positive parenting skills. By focusing on the promotion of healthy relationships and enhancement of relationship skills, in addition to dating violence per se, programs such as Fourth R (Wolfe et al., 2009) and Respect Educating of the Canadian Red Cross ( have the added benefit of addressing multiple problem behaviors, including bullying, risky sexual behavior, substance use, and dating violence. Given the ubiquity of and importance placed on smartphones and social media, any prevention or health promotion program must incorporate technology. Programs that have already been shown to be effective will likely benefit from augmenting or replacing components with text- or web-based applications to meet teens “where they are” and to extend the program’s reach to contexts outside of the school and community. As an example, It’s your game. . .Keep it Real (see Chapter 19: Using Intervention Mapping to Develop “Me & You: Building Healthy Relationships,” A Healthy Relationship Intervention for Early Middle School Students) includes both

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classroom- and computer-based activities, in which the latter are set within a virtual world environment and includes interactive skills-training exercises, peer role-model videos, and animations. Ideally, efforts to prevent dating violence and promote healthy relationships should begin early and continue through young adulthood, be developmentally appropriate, be universally implemented, target multiple levels of social influence, and incorporate technology.

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