Violence in Adolescents' Dating Relationships

The goal of the team was to identify and facilitate the implementation of effective strategies to prevent psychological, physical and sexual violence in adolescents' dating relationships. The team's first step was to determine the extent of violence-supportive attitudes and experiences of dating violence amongst New Brunswick students, as well as to develop a better understanding of the causes and consequences of dating violence. To achieve these objectives, the team conducted two studies involving students in grades 7, 9 and 11: a large quantitative study and a smaller qualitative, focus group study. The team received several grants to support these research endeavours. In 1993, the team received a grant from the UNB Research Fund and from the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research for its early work. In addition, the team received a research grant from Health Canada to develop six psychometrically sound measures of attitudes towards dating violence. In 1994 the team received, as part of a large grant awarded to five teams of the Centre, a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to investigate predictors of dating violence against adolescent girls.

During 1998, the team completed the analyses of the data from these two studies. The team released the findings related to experiences with physical and psychological violence in a press release, including the finding that 22% of the girls and 12% of the boys reported that they had experienced one or more upsetting incidents of physical and/or psychological violence. The focus group study helped the team identify factors that were contributing to this high rate of violence. For example, the team found that the students had difficulty determining where to draw the line between what they perceive as 'normal' adolescent behaviour and that which they can identify as violent behaviour. They also identified a need for education programs that would teach them about healthy relationships. The adolescents' call for proactive strategies to help them learn the characteristics of good relationships to replace existing programs designed only to identify violent behaviour has clear implications for prevention programs. These results received wide media and government attention. The team has also prepared a report, available in both English and French, which summarizes its findings. A manuscript describing the work of the team has been published in the Centre's Research Papers Series. A manuscript describing the development and validation of the Attitudes Towards Dating Violence Scales (scales that were developed by the team) has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Family Violence. This makes the scales widely available to other researchers investigating dating violence.

The team disseminated the findings of the research widely within New Brunswick by developing a standardized presentation package that can be used by any member of the team. The team received two grants to support this work: a grant of $1850 from the New Brunswick School Trustees Association, and a grant of $5,000 from the New Brunswick Department of Education. The team presented its findings to a wide range of audiences such as teachers and school administrators, students, parents, and community groups.

Publications for the Violence in Adolescents Dating Relationships Team

Price, E. L., Byers, E. S., & the Dating Violence Research Team. (1999). The Attitudes Towards Dating Violence Scales: Development and initial validation. Journal of Family Violence, 14, 351-375.

Byers, E. S., Sears H. A., & the Dating Violence Research Team (2001, March). Dating violence amongst New Brunswick Adolescents/La violence dans les fréquentations chez les adolescentes et les adolescents du Nouveau-Brunswick. JustResearch, 15-17. Ottawa: Department of Justice.

Byers, E. S., Sears, H. A. et l’Équipe de recherche sur la violence dans les fréquentations (2001). La violence dans les fréquentations chez les adolescentes et les adolescents du Nouveau-Brunswick. Novelles de l’AEFNB, le 27 avril, 11-13.

Price, E. L., Byers, E. S., Sears, H. A., Whelan, J. Saint-Pierre, M. & The Dating Violence Research Team (2000). Dating Violence Amongst Students in Grades 7, 9 and 11 in New Brunswick: A Summary of Two Studies. Fredericton: The Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research, University of New Brunswick.

Price, E. L., Byers, E. S., Sears, H. A., Whelan, J. Saint-Pierre, M. et les membres de l’équipe de recherche Violence dans les fréquentations chez la population adolescente (2000). La violence dans les fréquentations chez les adolescents et adolescentes au Nouveau-Brunswick : Sommaire de deux études. Fredericton: Le Centre Muriel McQueen Fergusson pour la recherche sur la violence familiale, Université du Nouveau-Brunswick.

Krista Byers-Heinlein, Jamie Hart, Tammy Harrison, Justin Matchett, E. Sandra Byers & The Dating Violence Research Team (2004). Passing the torch: students teaching students about dating violence. In M. Stirling, C.A. Cameron, N. Nason-Clark, & B. Miedema. Understanding abuse: Partnering for change, pp. 297-319. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Byers, E.S. and the Dating Violence Team of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research. Development of a series of questionnaires measuring attitudes towards dating violence: The Attitudes Towards Dating Violence Scales, (1995, March). Report submitted to Health Canada. Ottawa: National Clearinghouse on Family Violence.

Byers, E.S. (Chair). (1995, June). The Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research: Academic community collaboration to eliminate family violence. Symposium presented at the meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Charlottetown.

Byers, E.S. & Price, L. (1995, June). Working together to prevent violence in junior high and high school dating relationships. In E.S. Byers (Chair). The Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research: Academic community collaboration to eliminate family violence. Symposium presented at the meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Charlottetown.

Price, L. & Byers, E. S. (1996, August). Adolescent boy’s attitudes towards sexual coercion: A developmental perspective. In S. Desmarais (Chair). Sexual attitudes and coercive behavior: A lifespan perspective. Symposium presented at the meeting of the meeting of the American Psychological Association, Toronto.

Byers, E. S., Price, L. & Dating Violence Research Team (1997, June). A multi-disciplinary collaborative approach to understanding dating violence. In J. Proulx & W. Josephson (Chairs). Dating violence research in Canada: Problems, projects, prevention. Symposium presented at the meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Toronto. [Abstract published in Canadian Psychology, 1997, 38, 137-138.]

Sears, H. A., Whelan, J. J., Saint-Pierre, M., & Byers, E. S. (1999, April). “If it hurts you, then it is not a Joke”: A qualitative study of adolescents’ ideas about dating violence. Poster presented at the meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Albuquerque.

Byers, E. S., Price, E. L., Sears, H. A. & the Dating Violence Research Team. (1999, May) Paper presented at the meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Halifax. . [Abstract published in Canadian Psychology (1999), 40, 29

Sears, H. A., Price, E. l., Byers, E. S., & the Dating Violence Research Team (1999, May). Paper presented at the meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Halifax. . [Abstract published in Canadian Psychology (1999), 40, 30]

Price, E. L. & Byers, E. S. (1999, July). Risk factors of adolescent boys’ psychologically abusive behaviour in dating relationships. Paper presented at the 6th International Family Violence Research Conference, Durham, N. H.