Perceptions of teens' exposure to violence
Advisor: Robin Robinson
This honors thesis project examines parents’ perceptions of their adolescent children's experiences with violence compared to adolescents’ self-reports of experiences with violence. Parents may believe that their children are generally safe when in fact they may be exposed to multiple negative experiences.
This study highlights adolescents’ experiences and raises parents’ awareness of these experiences so that parents can do more to protect their children, and/or provide information for other appropriate responses. If parents are not aware of their children’s exposure to violence, children may suffer multiple consequences such as disrupted attachments, violent behaviors, increased sexual behaviors, and alcohol and other drug use, to name a few traumagenic effects. Trauma that they experience may produce detrimental effects to their well-being such as losing the ability to cope with adverse events, along with developing maladaptive behaviors.
Research studies show that adolescents’ seemingly maladaptive behaviors may in fact be defense mechanisms for survival. The relationship between disrupted attachment and exposure to violence are indicated in the literature. The current study may provide findings that can help to prevent children from developing maladaptive defenses, with increased parental supervision and decreased exposure to violence. Literature regarding teens’ experiences such as sexual encounters, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, neglect, teen dating violence, bullying, and social networking media are considered within a theoretical framework of attachment. The sample population includes University students and their parents. Survey data also include open- ended questions for parents and children to elaborate their responses.