Gender Differences in the Longitudinal Predictors of Adolescent Dating Violence
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BACKGROUND: Adolescent dating violence is a public health problem. The public health approach to prevention is to identify predictors of problem behaviors and develop interventions to eliminate or reduce those predictors with the intention of altering the chain of causation. Longitudinal data are preferred for identifying predictors of behavior but all dating violence studies have used cross-sectional data. We use longitudinal data to examine predictors of adolescent dating violence from several domains guided by an ecological perspective. METHODS: Eighty percent (N = 1,965) of the 8th- and 9th-graders in one county completed baseline questionnaires in school and 90% (N = 1,759) of those adolescents completed questionnaires again 1&1/2 years later. Proportional odds models were used to identify cross-sectional correlates and longitudinal predictors of dating violence perpetration that occurred between baseline and follow-up. RESULTS: Most of the study variables were correlated with dating violence in cross-sectional analyses. Having friends who are victims of dating violence, using alcohol, and being of a race other than white predicted dating violence perpetration by females. Holding attitudes that are accepting of dating violence predicted dating violence perpetration by males. CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that intervention strategies should vary for males and females and that when basing interventions on cross-sectional findings, scarce resources may be stretched to address persons who may not truly be at risk of beginning to perpetrate dating violence.
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