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Etiology of Teen Dating Violence among Adolescent Children of Alcoholics

Abstract

Family processes in early life have been implicated in adolescent involvement in teen dating violence, yet the developmental pathways through which this occurs are not well understood. In this study, etiological pathways from parental psychopathology and marital conflict in infancy to involvement in dating violence in late adolescence were examined in a sample of children at high-risk due to parental alcohol problems. Families (N = 227) recruited when the child was 12 months of age were assessed at 12-, 24-, 36-months, kindergarten, 6th, 8th, and 12th grades. Slightly more than half of the children were female (51%) and the majority were of European American descent (91%). Parental psychopathology in infancy was indirectly associated with teen dating violence in late adolescence via low maternal warmth and self-regulation in early childhood, externalizing behavior from kindergarten to early adolescence, and sibling problems in middle childhood. Marital conflict was also indirectly associated with teen dating violence via child externalizing behavior. Maternal warmth and sensitivity in early childhood emerged as an important protective factor and was associated with reduced marital conflict and increased child self-regulation in the preschool years as well as increased parental monitoring in middle childhood and early adolescence. Family processes occurring in the preschool years and in middle childhood appear to be critical periods for creating conditions that contribute to dating violence risk in late adolescence. These findings underscore the need for early intervention and prevention with at-risk families.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Jillian Fish, Shahirah Gillespie, Marlana Howard, and Toni Torchia for their assistance with the late adolescent wave of data collection. We would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their feedback on earlier versions of this manuscript.

Authors’ Contributions

J.A.L. and R.D.E. conceived of the study, participated in its design and implementation, and drafted the manuscript; R.D.E. and J.L. conducted the statistical analyses, M.C. participated in the coordination of the study and performed the measurement, J.H. contributed to the statistical analysis and interpretation of the data, and K.E.L. was involved in the design of the study and interpretation of the data. All authors contributed to drafts of the manuscript and have read and approved the final manuscript.

Funding

This research was supported by Award 2012-W9-BX-0001, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice and by the National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse of the National Institutes of Health R01 AA010042 and R21AA021617. The opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this exhibition are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice or the National Institutes of Health.

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Correspondence to Jennifer A. Livingston.

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Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures in this study were conducted in compliance with the ethical standards outlined by the University at Buffalo Institutional Review Board and Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects (Common Rule).

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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The procedures for all waves of this study were approved by the University at Buffalo Social and Behavioral Sciences Review Board. Individual informed consent and assent was obtained from all participants in this study.

Informed Consent

Informed written consents were obtained from both parents as teach wave of data collection, and child assents were obtained from kindergarten-age and older children. Children who had reached their 18th birthday by the late adolescent assessment provided informed consent.

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Livingston, J.A., Eiden, R.D., Lessard, J. et al. Etiology of Teen Dating Violence among Adolescent Children of Alcoholics. J Youth Adolescence 47, 515–533 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-017-0730-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-017-0730-4

Keywords

  • Teen dating violence
  • Adolescence
  • Etiology
  • Parenting
  • Self-regulation
  • Aggression