Age of onset for physical and sexual teen dating violence perpetration: A longitudinal investigation.Prev Med. 2017 Dec; 105:275-279.PM
Teen dating violence (TDV) is a serious and prevalent public health problem. TDV is associated with a number of negative health consequences for victims and predicts violence in adult relationships. Thus, efforts should be devoted to the primary prevention of TDV. However, only a few studies have examined when the risk for the first occurrence of TDV is greatest. Continued research in this area would inform the timing of, as well as developmentally appropriate strategies for, TDV primary prevention efforts. The current study examined at which age(s) the risk for TDV perpetration onset was greatest. Utilizing a panel-based design, a sample of racially/ethnically diverse high school students (N=872; 56% female) from the Southwestern United States completed self-report surveys on physical and sexual TDV perpetration annually for six years (2010 to 2016). Findings suggested that the physical TDV risk of onset was at or before ages 15 to 16 for females and at or before age 18 for males. For sexual TDV perpetration, risk was similar for males and females during adolescence, before uniquely increasing for males, and not females in emerging adulthood. Findings highlight the need for TDV primary prevention programs to be implemented early in high school, and potentially in middle school.