Perpetration of physical assault against dating partners, peers, and siblings among a locally representative sample of high school students in Boston, Massachusetts

Emily F Rothman, Renee M Johnson, Deborah Azrael, Diane M Hall, Janice Weinberg
Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 2010, 164 (12): 1118-24

OBJECTIVES: To assess the co-occurrence of past-month physical assault of a dating partner and violence against peers and siblings among a locally representative sample of high school students and to explore correlates of dating violence (DV) perpetration.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey design.

SETTING: Twenty-two public high schools in Boston, Massachusetts.

PARTICIPANTS: A sample of urban high school students (n = 1398) who participated in the Boston Youth Survey, implemented January through April of 2008.

MAIN OUTCOMES MEASURES: Self-reported physical DV in the month before the survey, defined as pushing, shoving, slapping, hitting, punching, kicking, or choking a dating partner 1 or more times.

RESULTS: Among the respondents, 18.7%, 41.2%, and 31.2% of students reported past-month perpetration of physical DV, peer violence, and sibling violence, respectively. Among violence perpetrators, the perpetration of DV only was rare (7.9%). Controlling for age and school, the association between sibling violence and DV was strong for boys (adjusted prevalence ratio, 3.81; 95% confidence interval, 2.07-6.99) and for girls (1.83; 1.44-2.31), and the association between peer violence and DV perpetration was strong for boys (5.13; 3.15-8.35) and for girls (2.57; 1.87-3.52). Dating violence perpetration was also associated with substance use, knife carrying, delinquency, and exposure to community violence.

CONCLUSIONS: Adolescents who perpetrated physical DV were also likely to have perpetrated peer and/or sibling violence. Dating violence is likely one of many co-occurring adolescent problem behaviors, including sibling and peer violence perpetration, substance use, weapon carrying, and academic problems.

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