By David Lee on September 8, 2009 · tagged as , ,

A Link Between Dating Violence and Witnessing Violent Crime?

Dating violence and sexual violence prevention efforts require clarity in determine who is the primary audience. While many efforts focus on a broad audience (universal in public health terminology), there is merit to narrowing the audience because the prevention effort can then be tailored to meet the needs of the audience and to find the group of people who might benefit the most from the prevention efforts.

In the recently ePublished article in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, researchers used data from a national sample of adolescents and found teens who witness violence crime are more often victims of dating violence than those who do not witness violence crime.

The researchers conclude:

Adolescents exposed to violent crime experience an increased risk of partner violence victimization in adolescence and continuing victimization into adulthood. Targeting dating violence prevention and intervention programs to geographic areas with high levels of violent crime may be an efficient strategy to reach higher risk adolescents. Reducing community violent crime may also have spillover effects on partner violence.

This study suggests that linking dating violence prevention and general violence prevention efforts are important. While this is only one study that does not prove its case,  I encourage exploring partnerships of all prevention efforts. It seems reasonable that there are many common elements .

Here is the full citation and abstract of the article from SafetyLit:

Continuity of Adolescent and Early Adult Partner Violence Victimization: Association with Witnessing Violent Crime in Adolescence.

Spriggs AL, Halpern CT, Martin SL. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2009; ePublished May 4, 2009

DOI: 10.1136/jech.2008.078592

http://jech.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/63/9/741

(Copyright © 2009, BMJ Publishing Group)

BACKGROUND: Although exposure to peer and family violence are documented risk factors for adolescent dating violence, less is known about the relationship between violent crime exposure and dating violence victimization.

METHODS: Participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (n=4,794) aged 13-17 years self-reported witnessing violent crime (someone being shot or stabbed) in the 12 months prior to Wave I interview (1994-95), physical partner violence victimization within the 18 months prior to Wave II interview (1995-96), and physical and sexual partner violence victimization within the 18 months prior to Wave III interview (2001).

RESULTS: Twelve percent of respondents reported dating violence victimization at Wave II. Witnessing violent crime was positively associated with victimization in crude (OR=2.11, 95% CI 1.56-2.86) and adjusted (AOR=1.53, 95% CI 1.09-2.15) analyses. Of the adolescent partner violence victims (n=549), 32% reported continued victimization into early adulthood; after adjusting for gender, age, urbanicity, and childhood maltreatment history, witnessing violent crime in adolescence was negatively associated with having non-violent relationships in early adulthood (AOR=0.40, 95% CI 0.19-0.84). In cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, associations between violent crime exposure and victimization did not vary by age, gender, or race/ethnicity.

CONCLUSION: Adolescents exposed to violent crime experience an increased risk of partner violence victimization in adolescence and continuing victimization into adulthood. Targeting dating violence prevention and intervention programs to geographic areas with high levels of violent crime may be an efficient strategy to reach higher risk adolescents. Reducing community violent crime may also have spillover effects on partner violence.

David Lee

More Posts by David Lee

David S. Lee, MPH, is the Director of Prevention Services at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault where he provides training and technical assistance on prevention. David manages the national project PreventConnect, an online community of violence against women prevention practitioners, funders, researchers and activists. For over 27 years David has worked in efforts to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

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