Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 323–339 | Cite as

Living in Partner-violent Families: Developmental Links to Antisocial Behavior and Relationship Violence

  • Timothy O. Ireland
  • Carolyn A. Smith
Empirical Research


Links between living in a partner-violent home and subsequent aggressive and antisocial behavior are suggested by the “cycle of violence” hypothesis derived from social learning theory. Although there is some empirical support, to date, findings have been generally limited to cross-sectional studies predominantly of young children, or retrospective studies of adults. We address this issue with prospective data from the Rochester Youth Development Study (RYDS), an ongoing longitudinal investigation of the development of antisocial behavior in a community sample of 1,000 urban youth followed from age 14 to adulthood. The original panel included 68% African American, 17% Hispanic, and 15% White participants, and was 72.9% male, and 27.1% female. Measures come from a combination of sources including interviews with parents, interviews with youth, and official records. We test the general hypothesis that there is a relationship between living in partner-violent homes during adolescence, and later antisocial behavior and relationship violence. Employing logistic regression and controlling for related covariates, including child physical abuse, we find a significant relationship between exposure to parental violence and adolescent conduct problems. The relationship between exposure to parental violence and measures of antisocial behavior and relationship aggression dissipates in early adulthood, however, exposure to severe parental violence is significantly related to early adulthood violent crime, and intimate partner violence. Our results suggest that exposure to severe parental violence during adolescence is indeed consequential for violent interactions in adulthood.


Cycle of violence Intimate partner violence Developmental criminology Crime Violence Relationship violence Exposure to family violence Antisocial behavior Adolescence Emerging adulthood 



This article was prepared under Grant 5 RO-1 DA20344 and Grant 5 RO-1 DA05512 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Grant 86-JN-CX-0007 from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, and Grant SBRO9123299 from the National Science Foundation. Work on this project was also aided by grants to the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis at the University at Albany from NICHD (P30 HD3204) and NSF (SBR-9512290).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminology and Criminal JusticeNiagara UniversityNiagara UniversityUSA
  2. 2.School of Social WelfareUniversity at AlbanyAlbanyUSA

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