Symptoms of psychological distress may be one pathway through which child maltreatment and witnessing violence in the home relate to dating violence victimization. This study examined whether psychological distress in mid-adolescence mediated the link between child maltreatment and witnessing violence in early adolescence and dating violence victimization in young adulthood. The sample included female participants (N = 532) from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well Being who were 18 years or older in the fifth and final wave of data collection. At the time of entry into the study, participants were 12.81 (SD = 1.23) years old. Sixteen percent of participants identified as Hispanic; 53 % identified their race as White, 33 % as Black, and 11 % as American Indian. Results showed that psychological distress may play a causal role in the relationship of violence in the home to dating violence victimization. Interventions targeting psychological distress, particularly in samples at risk for child maltreatment, may reduce the risk of dating violence victimization.
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To ease readability the term dating violence victimization is used throughout the remainder of the article.
Youth age 11 years and older were included from wave 1 because these participants provided self-report information. Youth under the age of 11 years were not asked directly about their experiences with child maltreatment, witnessing violence, or psychological distress.
It is generally recommended that weighted data are used in studies with NSCAW data. However, data weights were computed for the full sample, and it is unclear whether these weights provide expected adjustments for the subsample of older female adolescents chosen for the current study. Arguably weighted data may bias results for a subsample for whom the weights were not created. This may undermine the value of the weights and potentially distort results in uncertain ways. Although the unweighted data also have unknown biases, no effort is made with these data to generalize to the larger population of youth at risk for child abuse or neglect. Rather, the unweighted NSCAW data provide a large sample for testing intra-individual mechanisms to explain dating violence victimization. For these reasons, unweighted data were used.
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Author wishes to acknowledge the invaluable assistance from the staff and consultants at the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect Summer Research Institute, especially John Eckenrode, Elliott Smith, Holly Larrabee, and Chris Wiesen. Author also wishes to thank Jennifer Hutchinson for her editorial feedback.
This study was made possible by an award to the author to participate in the Summer Research Institute at the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect, Cornell University, College of Human Ecology, June, 2015.
Conflict of interest
The author declares that she has no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in this study, which involved human participants, were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from legal guardians of all individual participants included in the study.
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Cascardi, M. From Violence in the Home to Physical Dating Violence Victimization: The Mediating Role of Psychological Distress in a Prospective Study of Female Adolescents. J Youth Adolescence 45, 777–792 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-016-0434-1