Monday, December 12, 2016

New Grant Reports on Teen Dating Violence

Through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, NIJ has made available the following final technical reports: 

             Measurement, Prevalence, Trajectories, and Consequences (pdf, 22 pages)

These reports are the result NIJ-funded projects but were not published by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Title: The National Survey of Teen Relationships and Intimate Violence (STRiV) (pdf, 18 pages)
Authors: Bruce G. Taylor, Ph.D., Elizabeth A. Mumford, Ph.D., Weiwei Liu, Ph.D.

This paper summarizes the findings from five papers (three published and two under review) of the National Survey of Teen Relationships and Intimate Violence (STRiV).

The purpose of STRiV was to build the field’s understanding of adolescent relationship abuse (ARA). The researchers define ARA as physical, emotional, verbal, psychological, or sexual abuse perpetrated by an adolescent against another adolescent with whom they are in a dating/romantic relationship. This may be in person or via electronic means, in both public and private spaces, and/or between current or past dating partners.

The goal of the survey was to produce nationally representative estimates of the prevalence of different forms of ARA among youth (ages 12-18), to document the characteristics of abusive relationships during adolescence, to assess ARA risk factors, and to situate these estimates within the environment of adolescents’ key social relationships and communications.

Based on the study’s findings, the researchers developed the first comprehensive national portrait of the prevalence of varying categories of ARA victimization and perpetration. The portrait includes levels of physical and emotional injury by gender, age, and other key demographic characteristics.
The researchers also use STRiV findings to explore the importance of parent-youth relationships and interactions, the impact of financial behaviors on adolescent dating, youth tolerance for ARA and prevention, friendship group structural and behavioral factors, and the relationship between sexual harassment and ARA.

The research suggests that the STRiV national portrait of ARA can begin to help policymakers identify the resources needed to combat ARA. Overall, with an additional second NIJ grant, the researchers will continue to work toward the project goal to provide the necessary data to help the field understand and prevent ARA.

Title: Teen Dating Violence Victimization in an Urban Sample of Early Adolescents: Measurement, Prevalence, Trajectories, and Consequences (pdf, 22 pages)

Authors: Elizabeth A. Goncy, Albert D. Farrell, Terri N. Sullivan


A critical period for the emergence of adolescent dating aggression (DA, also referred to as teen dating violence) and victimization is early adolescence.

Though many early adolescents are dating, interpersonal skills may not fully emerge until later. This skills deficit may lead to DA perpetration and victimization. Prevention and intervention programs that do not start until after middle school may miss a critical window. Early programming may result in lessening DA to reduce the burden of the criminal justice system in combating and prosecuting later domestic violence.

This project was designed to further the understanding of DA during early adolescence to guide early identification, prevention, and intervention. It involved secondary analysis data on youth violence and prevention.

The study found that approximately 40 percent reported perpetrating at least one act of DA and almost 50 percent reported experiencing one act of DA victimization in the past three months. Gender differences included greater perpetration among girls, with boys more likely victimized, but girls showing an increase in DA victimization and perpetration across middle school.

This research shows substantial rates of DA perpetration and victimization beginning as early as sixth grade, with around a fifth of urban middle school youth engaging in less severe forms of DA as defined in the latent class of psychologically aggressive victims. Importantly, approximately another quarter of middle school youth are involved in substantially more severe forms of DA as a victim, perpetrator, or both. The research suggests that prevention may need to be tailored.

Further, risk for involvement in DA may be exacerbated in youth exposed to poverty or community violence.

Researchers acknowledge a need for more research to examine whether changes in DA victimization over time link to changes in mental health or other risk factors. Additionally, the field would benefit from replication and validation of these findings in diverse or nationally representative samples. Finally, measurement work could be improved with greater emphasis on understanding intent, context, motives, and consequences.

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