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Intimate Partner Violence Among Adolescents in Cape Town, South Africa

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Abstract

This study aimed to describe potentially preventable factors in intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration and victimization among South African 8th grade students. Data were collected during a pilot evaluation of a classroom 8th grade curriculum on gender-based violence prevention in nine public schools in Cape Town through self-completed interviews with 549 8th grade students, 238 boys and 311 girls. Structural equation models (SEM) predicting IPV were constructed with variables a priori hypothesized to be associated. The majority of students (78.5 %) had had a partner in the past 3 months, and they reported high rates of IPV during that period (e.g., over 10 % of boys reported forcing a partner to have sex, and 39 % of girls reported physical IPV victimization). A trimmed version of the hypothesized SEM (CFI = .966; RMSEA = .051) indicated that disagreement with the ideology of male superiority and violence predicted lower risk of IPV (p < .001), whereas the frequency of using negative conflict resolution styles (e.g., walking off angrily, sending angry text messages, or refusing to talk to them) predicted high IPV risk (p < .001) and mediated the impact of heavy alcohol drinking on IPV (Sobel test, z = 3.16; p < .001). The model fit both girls and boys, but heavy drinking influenced negative styles of resolving conflict more strongly among girls than boys. Findings suggest that interventions to reduce IPV among South African adolescents should challenge attitudes supportive of male superiority and violence; encourage use of positive conflict resolution styles; and discourage heavy alcohol use among both boys and girls.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by the US National Institute of Mental Health (R34MH081792). The authors also wish to gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Dr. Alan J. Flisher and Dr. Rick Zimmerman to this project. Dr. Zimmerman was originally the principal investigator on the NIH grant that funded this research. Dr. Flisher headed the research team in Cape Town before his untimely death in 2010. He is greatly missed.

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Correspondence to Marcia Russell.

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Russell, M., Cupp, P.K., Jewkes, R.K. et al. Intimate Partner Violence Among Adolescents in Cape Town, South Africa. Prev Sci 15, 283–295 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-013-0405-7

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