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The Role of Mental Health and Delinquent Behaviors in the Cycle of Sexual Violence Among Croatian Adolescents: A Longitudinal Exploration with Replication

  • Special Section: The Impact of Youth Violence on Sexual Health of Adolescents From National and Iinternational Perspectives
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Abstract

The “cycle of violence” perspective links the experience of being a victim of violence with later aggressive or violent behavior. While the association between victimization and aggression is relatively established, the mechanisms involved in the cycle of violence are less understood. The current study considered the role of mental health and delinquency on the pathway between sexual victimization and sexual aggression in two independent longitudinal samples of Croatian adolescents (Mage at baseline = 16 years). Using data from the first panel (six data waves, 2015–2018; n = 1289), structural equation modeling analysis pointed to a psychosocial mechanism, a combination of symptoms of depression/anxiety and delinquency, that mediated the link between the experience of sexual victimization and self-reported sexual aggression. We also observed a significant role of family environment in this psychosocial mechanism. The pattern of findings was partially replicated in the second panel with five waves of data (2015–2017; n = 750). The study’s results can help inform conversations around designing policies to prevent and address peer sexual violence among Croatian adolescents.

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Funding

Data collection was funded by the Croatian Science Foundation awarded to the second author (Grant #9221). The first author was supported by the Global International Collaborative Research Grant from Rutgers University and the Fulbright Scholar Program.

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Correspondence to Valerio Baćak.

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All PROBIOS study procedures were approved in June 2014 by the Ethical Research Committee of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb.

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Prior to the baseline survey, parents in Zagreb and Rijeka received a letter with general information about the study. At each survey round, students were asked for informed consent before starting the questionnaire.

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Baćak, V., Štulhofer, A. & Bright, K. The Role of Mental Health and Delinquent Behaviors in the Cycle of Sexual Violence Among Croatian Adolescents: A Longitudinal Exploration with Replication. Arch Sex Behav 52, 2735–2747 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-023-02606-6

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