There are concerns about the measurement of teen dating violence (TDV) perpetration. The current study compares data on TDV perpetration derived from a cumulative assessment procedure and a single assessment procedure. The prevalence and frequency of TDV perpetration are examined, as well as their associations with hypothesized precursors of TDV.
A sample of court-referred adolescents (n = 147, Mage = 15.85) completed a baseline assessment that included measures of three hypothesized precursors to TDV: externalizing problems, exposure to community violence, and attitudes about dating violence. For the cumulative assessment procedure, adolescents then completed up to 6 phone interviews on their TDV perpetration (physical, sexual, and emotional), once every 2 weeks over the course of a 3-month period. Data from these interviews were aggregated to form a cumulative measure of TDV perpetration over the 3 months. For the single assessment procedure, adolescents completed an identical interview on their TDV perpetration in a lab assessment 3 months after baseline, but were asked about perpetration over the entire 3 months.
Results of within-subjects comparisons indicated that, compared to the single assessment procedure, the cumulative assessment procedure yielded higher prevalence and greater frequency of physical, sexual, and emotional TDV. Across analytic methods, all types of TDV perpetration were more strongly related to externalizing problems, and sexual TDV perpetration was more strongly related to exposure to community violence, when measured cumulatively.
Cumulative assessment procedures might provide a more sensitive and valid measurement of TDV perpetration than single assessment procedures.