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Sociological Focus


Dating violence, Schools, Peers, Context, Social learning theory


Prior research has examined parental and peer influences on teen dating violence (TDV), but fewer studies have explored the role of broader social contexts. Using data from the Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study (TARS), the present research examines the effect of variations in school context on teen dating violence perpetration, while taking into account parental, peer, and demographic factors. Drawing on interview data from 955 adolescents across 32 different schools, results indicate that net of parents’ and friends’ use of violence, the normative climate of schools, specifically school-level teen dating violence, is a significant predictor of respondents’ own violence perpetration. School-level dating norms (non-exclusivity in relationships) also contribute indirectly to the odds of experiencing TDV. However, a more general measure of school-level violence toward friends is not strongly related to variations in TDV, suggesting the need to focus on domain-specific influences. Implications for theories emphasizing social learning processes and for TDV prevention efforts are discussed.

Grant Information

This research was supported by a grant from The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD036223), and by the Center for Family and Demographic Research, Bowling Green State University, which has core funding from The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R24HD050959).




This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Sociological Focus on April 7, 2015, available online:


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