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By on December 9, 2010

Dating Violence overlaps with peer and sibling violence

In the study published in the December 2010 issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the researchers found that high school students who reported perpetrating dating violence also were violent toward peers and siblings. For prevention practitioners, such findings requires us to consider how we can break down the silos between related issues in our prevention work.

18,7% of students reported perpetrating partner violence in the last month.  This study found that girls reported perpetrating partner violence than boys. The authors gave five reason to explain what they said was “consistent with at least 16 previous studies”:

First, it has been suggested that assessments of DV that do not solicit information about sexual violence may yield underestimates of perpetration by boys. Second, assessments that do not take into account the severity of the assault or injuries mischaracterize perpetration by obscuring sex-based severity differences. However, 2 studies have found nearly equivalent rates of injury reported by male and female victims of DV, and at least 3 studies have found that a greater proportion of girls than boys report perpetrating “severe” DV. Third, boys may be more likely to be dishonest about their DV perpetration on surveys, and girls may be more likely to overestimate their perpetration (eg, report playful hitting as abuse), although research suggests that adult men and women alike tend to underreport their own partner violence perpetration. This issue has yet to be investigated among adolescents. Fourth, female reports of violence against dating partners may reflect self-defensive actions, whereas male reports may not. Finally, girls in our sample may have reported their DV perpetration accurately. Because this study was not designed to explore the full situational context or consequences of DV perpetration, we were unable to determine why we found a higher perpetration rate among girls than boys.

The study used the Revised Conflict Tactics Scale to measure the violence. (See a critique of conflict tactics scale from VAWnet).

This article is featured as the “journal club” article and also has a related editorial by Monica Swahn titled Integrating Violence Prevention Research: Examining Perpetration and Victimization of Violence Within and Across Relationship Contexts.  Now medical students, residents and physicians are reading about teen dating violence.

Here is the abstract and link to the article:

Emily F. Rothman, ScD; Renee M. Johnson, PhD, MPH; Deborah Azrael, PhD; Diane M. Hall, PhD; Janice Weinberg, ScD, Perpetration of Physical Assault Against Dating Partners, Peers, and Siblings Among a Locally Representative Sample of High School Students in Boston, Massachusetts, Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 2010;164(12):1118-1124.

Click here for the article on the journal’s web site. (When I looked the full text of the article was available for free.)


Objectives To assess the co-occurrence of past-month physical assault of a dating partner and violence against peers and siblings among a locally representative sample of high school students and to explore correlates of dating violence (DV) perpetration.
Design  Cross-sectional survey design.

Setting Twenty-two public high schools in Boston, Massachusetts.

Participants A sample of urban high school students (n = 1398) who participated in the Boston Youth Survey, implemented January through April of 2008.

Main Outcomes Measures Self-reported physical DV in the month before the survey, defined as pushing, shoving, slapping, hitting, punching, kicking, or choking a dating partner 1 or more times.

Results Among the respondents, 18.7%, 41.2%, and 31.2% of students reported past-month perpetration of physical DV, peer violence, and sibling violence, respectively. Among violence perpetrators, the perpetration of DV only was rare (7.9%). Controlling for age and school, the association between sibling violence and DV was strong for boys (adjusted prevalence ratio, 3.81; 95% confidence interval, 2.07-6.99) and for girls (1.83; 1.44-2.31), and the association between peer violence and DV perpetration was strong for boys (5.13; 3.15-8.35) and for girls (2.57; 1.87-3.52). Dating violence perpetration was also associated with substance use, knife carrying, delinquency, and exposure to community violence.

Conclusions Adolescents who perpetrated physical DV were also likely to have perpetrated peer and/or sibling violence. Dating violence is likely one of many co-occurring adolescent problem behaviors, including sibling and peer violence perpetration, substance use, weapon carrying, and academic problems.

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