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Teen Dating Relationships: Opportunities for Youth to Define What's Healthy and Unhealthy

The Federal Interagency Workgroup on Teen Dating Violence, in collaboration with Concept Systems, Inc. (CSI), is conducting research to better understand how youth conceptualize healthy and unhealthy dating relationships.  A recent review of the teen dating violence research indicated that youth are rarely involved in research, and this project is an effort to understand the views of youth, as well as how they might be similar to or different from the views of adults.

The research project is organized into two phases.  In the first phase, concept mapping will be used to create a visual representation of the ways youth and adults perceive teen dating relationships.  Concept mapping is an approach that enables groups of people to reach consensus.  It reduces the power differences between groups of people, like youth and adults.  The concept mapping tool will be used to examine the similarities and differences in the conceptualized models of youth and adults (e.g., parents or other adults in community, practitioners, and researchers) to determine the value that youth place on various relationship characteristics.   Concept mapping will hopefully result in a better understanding of adolescent relationship features from the standpoint of youth.  The results of this project can be used to improve interventions and responses to teen dating violence.

Concept Mapping

Concept mapping participants for this project will include youth (ages 11-22) and adults (federal employees, researchers, practitioners and advocates), that will be invited to contribute to one or more of the following concept mapping activities:

  1. Brainstorming: Participants (up to 250 youth and 150 adults) will provide responses to a prompt (“A thought, feeling, action or behavior that teens in dating relationships might have or do is…”) via the internet.   
  2. Sorting: Participants (up to 50 youth and 50 adults) will sort the list of statements into smaller groups or themes that make sense to them.
  3. Rating: Participants (up to250 youth and 150 adults) will rate each of the statements on two different value dimensions.

Facilitated Discussions

The second phase of the project will consist of a series of eight facilitated discussions, where the results of the conceptual framework will be reviewed.  These facilitated discussions will include both youth and adult participants, and will be held in multiple locations across the country.  The goal of these discussions is to provide greater depth of understanding and highlight implications for promotion and prevention efforts.

Opportunities for Youth and Adults

If you are interested in participating, or if you have access to a group or organization of adults and/or youth that might be interested in taking part in the concept mapping activities, please contact Katy Hall, Project Manager at CSI, at KHall@conceptsystems.com.