Shared Risk Factors for the Perpetration of Physical Dating Violence, Bullying, and Sexual Harassment Among Adolescents Exposed to Domestic Violence

J Youth Adolesc. 2016 Apr;45(4):672-86. doi: 10.1007/s10964-015-0404-z. Epub 2016 Jan 8.


The high risk of perpetrating physical dating violence, bullying, and sexual harassment by adolescents exposed to domestic violence points to the need for programs to prevent these types of aggression among this group. This study of adolescents exposed to domestic violence examined whether these forms of aggression share risk factors that could be targeted for change in single programs designed to prevent all three types of aggression. Analyses were conducted on 399 mother victims of domestic violence and their adolescents, recruited through community advertising. The adolescents ranged in age from 12 to 16 years; 64 % were female. Generalized estimating equations was used to control for the covariation among the aggression types when testing for shared risk factors. Approximately 70 % of the adolescents reported perpetrating at least one of the three forms of aggression. In models examining one risk factor at a time, but controlling for demographics, adolescent acceptance of sexual violence, mother-adolescent discord, family conflict, low maternal monitoring, low mother-adolescent closeness, low family cohesion, depressed affect, feelings of anger, and anger reactivity were shared across all three aggression types. In multivariable models, which included all of the risk factors examined and the demographic variables, low maternal monitoring, depressed affect and anger reactivity remained significant shared risk factors. Our findings suggest that programs targeting these risk factors for change have the potential to prevent all three forms of aggression. In multivariable models, poor conflict management skills was a risk for bullying and sexual harassment, but not dating violence; acceptance of dating violence was a risk for dating violence and bullying, but not sexual harassment; and none of the examined risk factors were unique to aggression type. The study's implications for the development of interventions and future research are discussed.

Keywords: Aggression among adolescents exposed to domestic violence; Bullying; Physical dating violence; Sexual harassment.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Aggression / psychology
  • Bullying / statistics & numerical data*
  • Domestic Violence / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Intimate Partner Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Offenses
  • Sexual Harassment / statistics & numerical data*