The impact of family and peer protective factors on girls' violence perpetration and victimization

J Adolesc Health. 2013 Mar;52(3):365-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.07.015. Epub 2012 Sep 27.


Purpose: This study investigates whether family and peer connections and prosocial norms buffer adolescent girls' violence involvement and whether a youth development intervention augments the power of these protective factors in reducing girls' risk for violence.

Methods: Data were obtained from 253 13-17-year-olds enrolled in a randomized controlled trial of Prime Time, a youth development intervention offered through urban clinic settings to girls at high risk for pregnancy. Participants completed an audio computer-assisted self-interview survey at baseline and 6, 12, and 18 months after enrollment. Protective factors included scales assessing family and peer connections and prosocial norms. Outcome variables were violence victimization and perpetration scales measured at 18 months.

Results: Family connections and prosocial norms independently protected girls against violence involvement. Peer prosocial norms also served as a protective buffer against violence perpetration and victimization; however, girls with strong peer connections had higher levels of violence perpetration. Participation in Prime Time augmented the protective effects of family and peer connections on girls' violence victimization but not perpetration. Prime Time participants who had high levels of family connections reported the lowest levels of violence victimization at 18 months. Prime Time participants with strong peer connections trended toward lower levels of violence victimization than other girls.

Conclusions: Results suggest that effects of the Prime Time intervention on violence victimization were optimized among high-risk adolescent girls with strong connections to family and peers. The intervention was most potent in preventing violence victimization among girls with strong prosocial connections to family and peers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Family Relations*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Minnesota
  • Peer Group*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Environment
  • Social Support*
  • Violence / psychology*