This research builds upon a large, prospective longitudinal study of adolescent romantic and sexual relationships (The Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study-TARS ' N=1092). Planned analyses of quantitative and qualitative data collected across four waves of TARS interviews combined with new structured and in-depth interviews focused specifically on the youngest cohort of youths will provide a more comprehensive portrait of the: a) life course, b) relationship, and c) situational contexts that foster teen dating violence. Of major interest is to specify how experiences associated with gender influence processes that result in violent outcomes, as well as youths' own perceptions of the meanings of violent events in their lives and relationships.
The following specific aims will be addressed:
1) To describe the incidence and prevalence of relationship abuse across the period of adolescence, and as young people navigate the transition to young adulthood. The study design and measurement employed in previous waves of TARS permit an assessment of the demographic patterning of TDV (including physical perpetration and victimization, psychological abuse, and sexual coercion) with respect to gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, neighborhood and school context and other factors, and exploration of the less well researched area of developmental progressions in the experience of TDV. Early risk factors will be explored (e.g., parent's use of violence, neighborhood characteristics, peer normative climates, formative dating experiences) and contemporaneous circumstances associated with life course trajectories of perpetration and victimization.
2) To explore similarities and differences in the nature, qualities and dynamics within violent and non-violent teen dating relationships. The initial TARS project developed from the assumption that teen romantic relationships are complex, and likely to be incompletely described with reference to a single quality or construct (e.g., casual vs. serious; duration of the relationship). The perspective guiding this investigation, symbolic interaction, and associated measurement emphasis highlights that the ways in which dating and romance are experienced by young women and men are inherently subjective. Thus in addition to behavioral measures, measurements of emotional feelings (e.g., a passionate love scale), and other subjective states (e.g., a perceived lack of identity support) are also included.
3) To investigate the situational contexts of violence by collecting new quantitative data from the
youngest cohort of TARS respondents (N=457) specifically focused on TDV, and qualitative 'relationship history narratives' from youths reporting at least one experience with abuse (N=100). The goal is to document the progression of abuse within particular relationships by detailing cognitive, emotional, behavioral and social factors that influence patterns of escalation and de-escalation.