Risky lifestyle as a mediator of the relationship between deviant peer affiliation and dating violence victimization among adolescent girls

Johanne Vézina, Martine Hébert, François Poulin, Francine Lavoie, Frank Vitaro, Richard E Tremblay
Journal of Youth and Adolescence 2011, 40 (7): 814-24
Few studies have explored the possible contribution of the peer group to dating violence victimization. The current study tested the hypothesis that a risky lifestyle would mediate the relationship between deviant peer affiliation and dating violence victimization among adolescent girls. The proposed mediation model was derived from lifestyles and routine activities theories. A sample of 550 girls (mean age = 15) drawn from a larger representative community sample in Quebec, Canada, completed a questionnaire on three forms of dating violence victimization (psychological, physical, and sexual). Results revealed that girls with a higher level of affiliation with deviant peers were more likely to endorse a risky lifestyle and reported higher rates of all forms of dating violence victimization. Further analyses showed that, while deviant peer affiliation is associated with dating violence victimization, this relationship may be explained, at least partially for psychological violence, and completely for physical/sexual violence, by the girls' own risky lifestyle. Future preventive interventions for adolescent dating violence victimization should target deviant peer groups, as well as adolescent girls who display a risky lifestyle.

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