Skip to main content
Log in

“If You Don’t Have Honesty in a Relationship, Then There Is No Relationship”: African American Girls’ Characterization of Healthy Dating Relationships, A Qualitative Study

  • Original Paper
  • Published:
The Journal of Primary Prevention Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

The quality of dating relationships in adolescence can have long lasting effects on identity development, self-esteem, and interpersonal skills, and can shape values and behaviors related to future intimate relationships. The aims of this study were to: (1) investigate how African American adolescent girls characterize healthy relationships; and (2) describe the meanings of these characteristics in the context of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 12 healthy dating relationship qualities. We conducted semi-structured one-on-one in-depth interviews with 33 African American high school girls in the mid-Atlantic region. Trained staff transcribed interviews verbatim and entered the data into ATLAS.ti for coding and analysis. Participants’ specified and vividly described eight healthy relationship characteristics: good communication, honesty, trust, respect, compromise, understanding, individuality, and self-confidence. Of these characteristics, three (good communication, compromise, and respect) were described in ways discordant with CDC’s definitions. Findings highlight a need to better understand how girls develop values and ascribe characteristics of healthy relationships in order to reduce their risk for teen dating violence.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Abraham, C., & Michie, S. (2008). A taxonomy of behavior change techniques used in interventions. Health Psychology: Official Journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association, 27(3), 379–387. doi:10.1037/0278-6133.27.3.379.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ackard, D. M., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2002). Date violence and date rape among adolescents: Associations with disordered eating behaviors and psychological health. Child Abuse and Neglect, 26(5), 455–473.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Akers, A. Y., Yonas, M., Burke, J., & Chang, J. C. (2010). “Do you want somebody treating your sister like that?” Qualitative exploration of how African American families discuss and promote healthy teen dating relationships. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 26(11), 2165–2185. doi:10.1177/0886260510383028.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Bandura, A. (2004). Health promotion by social cognitive means. Health Education & Behavior: The Official Publication of the Society for Public Health Education, 31(2), 143–164. doi:10.1177/1090198104263660.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Banister, E., & Leadbeater, B. J. (Eds.). (2007). To stay or to leave? How do mentoring groups support healthy dating relationships in high-risk girls?. New York: New York University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Banyard, V. L., Cross, C., & Modecki, K. L. (2006). Interpersonal violence in adolescence: Ecological correlates of self-reported perpetration. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 21(10), 1314–1332. doi:10.1177/0886260506291657.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Berg, B. L. (2007). Qualitative research methods for the social sciences (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Berger, L. E., McMakin, D., & Furman, W. (2005). The language of love in adolescence. In A. Williams & C. Thurlow (Eds.), Communication in adolescence: Perspectives on language and social interaction in the teenage years. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008). Youth risk behavior survieillance—United States, 2007. Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, 57(SS-4), 1–131.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010). Healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, from http://www.cdc.gov/chooserespect/understanding_dating_violence/healthy_vs_unhealthy_relationships.html.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012a). 19912011 High school youth risk behavior surveillance system, from http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012b). Dating matters initiative, from http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/DatingMatters/.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012c). Youth risk behavior surveillance—United States, 2011. Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, 61(SS-4).

  • Character Counts (2012) from http://charactercounts.org/.

  • Chiodo, D., Crooks, C. V., Wolfe, D. A., McIsaac, C., Hughes, R., & Jaffe, P. G. (2011). Longitudinal prediction and concurrent functioning of adolescent girls demonstrating various profiles of dating violence and victimization. Prevention Science, 13(4), 350–359. doi:10.1007/s11121-011-0236-3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eaton, D. K., Kann, L., Kinchen, S., Shanklin, S., Ross, J., Hawkins, J et al. (2009). Youth risk behavior surveillance—United States. Surveillance Summaries, 59(SS-5).

  • Feldman, S. S., & Gowen, L. K. (1998). Conflict negotiation tactics in romantic relationships in high school students. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 27(6), 691–717.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Foshee, V. A., Bauman, K. E., Arriaga, X. B., Helms, R. W., Koch, G. G., & Linder, G. F. (1998). An evaluation of safe dates, an adolescent dating violence prevention program. American Journal of Public Health, 88(1), 45–50.

    Article  CAS  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Foshee, V. A., Bauman, K. E., Ennett, S. T., Suchindran, C., Benefield, T., & Linder, G. F. (2005). Assessing the effects of the dating violence prevention program “safe dates” using random coefficient regression modeling. Prevention Science, 6(3), 245–258. doi:10.1007/s11121-005-0007-0.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Foshee, V. A., & Langwick, S. A. (2011). Safe dates: Prevention program for dating abuse, from http://www.hazelden.org/web/public/safedates.page.

  • Fredland, N., Ricardo, I. B., Campbell, J. C., Sharps, Kub, J. K., & Yonas, M. (2005). The meaning of dating violence in the lives of middle school adolescents: A report of a focus group study. Journal of School Violence, 4(2), 95–114.

  • Furman, W., & Buhrmester, D. (1992). Age and sex differences in perceptions of networks of personal relationships. Child Development, 63, 103–115.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Giordano, P. C., Longmore, M. A., & Manning, W. D. (2006). Gender and the meaning of adolescent romantic relationships: A focus on boys. American Sociological Review, 71, 260–287.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Glass, N., Fredland, N., Campbell, J., Yonas, M., Sharps, P., & Kub, J. (2003). Adolescent dating violence: Prevalence, risk factors, health outcomes, and implications for clinical practice. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 32(2), 227–238.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Guzman, L., Ikramullah, E., Manlove, J., & Peterson, K. (2009). Teen perspectives on healthy romantic relationships among racial/ethnic minorities. Washington, DC: Child Trends.

    Google Scholar 

  • Howard, D., Wang, M. Q., & Yan, F. (2007). Psychosocial factors associated with reports of physical dating violence among U.S. adolescent females. Adolescence, 42(166), 311–324.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Johnson, S. B., Frattaroli, S., Campbell, J., Wright, J., Pearson-Fields, A. S., & Cheng, T. L. (2005). “I know what love means.” Gender-based violence in the lives of urban adolescents. Journal of Women’s Health, 14(2), 172–179. doi:10.1089/jwh.2005.14.172.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Jouriles, E. N., Platt, C., & McDonald, R. (2009). Violence in adolescent dating relationships. The Prevention Researcher, 16, 3–7.

    Google Scholar 

  • Laursen, B., & Collins, W. A. (1994). Interpersonal conflict during adolescence. Psychological Bulletin, 115, 197–209.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Malik, S., Sorenson, S. B., & Aneshensel, C. S. (1997). Community and dating violence among adolescents: Perpetration and victimization. Journal of Adolescent Health, 21(5), 291–302. doi:10.1016/S1054-139X(97)00143-2.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (2006). Designing qualitative research (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Martinez, R., Rosenfeld, R., & Mares, D. (2008). Social disorganization, drug market activity, and neighborhood violent crime. Urban Affairs Review, 43(6), 846–874.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Miller, J. (2008). Getting played: African American girls urban inequality and gendered violence. New York: New York University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mulford, C., & Giordano, P. C. (2008). Teen dating violence: A closer look at adolescent romantic relationships. National Institute of Justice, 261, 34–40.

    Google Scholar 

  • Professional Leaders of Women and Girls (2012). Teen girls: Know the characteristics of a healthy, dating relationship. Retrieved September 24, 2012, from http://afropuffsandponytails.com/empowerment-of-african-american-young-girls-and-teen-girls/teen-girls-know-the-characteristics-of-a-healthy-dating-relationship/.

  • Raiford, J. L., Wingood, G. M., & Diclemente, R. J. (2007). Prevalence, incidence, and predictors of dating violence: A longitudinal study of African American female adolescents. Journal of Women’s Health, 16(6), 822–832. doi:10.1089/jwh.2006.0002.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Sampson, R. J., Raudenbush, S. W., & Earls, F. (1997). Neighborhoods and violent crime: A multilevel study of collective efficacy. Science, 277(5328), 918–924.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Sears, H. A., Byers, E. S., Whelan, J. J., & Saint-Pierre, M. (2006). “If it hurts you, then it is not a joke”: Adolescents’ ideas about girls’ and boys’ use and experience of abusive behavior in dating relationships. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 21(9), 1191–1207. doi:10.1177/0886260506290423.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Shaffer, D. R. (2009). Social and personality development (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

    Google Scholar 

  • Spano, S. (2004). Stages of adolescent development. Upstate Center of Excellence, Cornell University, Family Life Development Center. Retrieved May 20, 2012, from http://www.actforyouth.net/.

  • US Department of Education (2005). Helping your child become a responsible citizen. Washington, DC: Office of Communications and Outreach.

  • Williams, L. R., & Hickle, K. E. (2011). “He cheated on me, I cheated on him back”: Mexican American and White adolescents’ perceptions of cheating in romantic relationships. Journal of Adolescence, 34(5), 1005–1016. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2010.11.007.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Katrina J. Debnam.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Debnam, K.J., Howard, D.E. & Garza, M.A. “If You Don’t Have Honesty in a Relationship, Then There Is No Relationship”: African American Girls’ Characterization of Healthy Dating Relationships, A Qualitative Study. J Primary Prevent 35, 397–407 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10935-014-0362-3

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10935-014-0362-3

Keywords

Navigation