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Patterns of Distinct Forms of Peer and Dating Aggression Perpetration in Adolescence


Perpetration of peer-targeted and dating aggression tends to co-occur in adolescence. However, few studies have examined relations among distinct forms of peer-targeted (physical, relational, cyber) and dating (physical, psychological, cyber) aggression. The purpose of this study was to explore the extent to which youth were distinguishable based on the form of aggression they perpetrated (physical, relational or psychological, or cyber) or by the relational context of the perpetration (dating partners or peers). Participants were 185 ninth-grade students (Mage = 14.3 years, SD = 0.56) in the southeastern United States who participated in surveys collected in the fall of 2019 and were currently dating. The sample was predominantly African American (92%) and was evenly divided by gender (52% female). Three profiles emerged through latent profile analysis: (a) low frequency aggression (84.6%), (b) high frequency peer-targeted aggression (8.9%), and (c) high frequency dating aggression (6.5%). Youth are distinguishable by the relationship contexts in which they perpetrate aggression rather than by forms of aggression. This suggests that youth may selectively choose to use aggression in specific contexts and do not always generalize aggression to other relationship contexts. Prevention and intervention efforts should address the relational contexts of aggression perpetration.

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Correspondence to Jasmine N. Coleman.

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The authors have no competing interests to disclose. This research was funded by an internal grant from University of South Alabama (PI: Mehari).

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Coleman, J.N., Nguyen, T., Waasdorp, T.E. et al. Patterns of Distinct Forms of Peer and Dating Aggression Perpetration in Adolescence. School Mental Health 15, 839–850 (2023).

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