Interpersonal violence against children and youth, including parental violence and peer violence, are major global health concerns. However, the majority of the parental violence and peer violence literature examines each separately from one another. In this study, we specifically investigate the role of fathers and whether paternal violence victimization is associated with peer violence perpetration, above and beyond maternal violence victimization. We used nationally-representative data from three sub-Saharan African country surveys of the Violence Against Children Surveys, which comprised a pooled sample of 8184 youth aged 13-24 years in Malawi (conducted in 2013), Nigeria (2014), and Zambia (2014). We used multivariable logistic regression models to estimate the association between paternal violence victimization and peer violence perpetration, controlling for maternal violence victimization, witnessing violence, and other covariates. We also tested a structural equation model to determine whether the direct association between paternal violence victimization and peer violence perpetration was mediated through youth mental distress or alcohol use, controlling for other violence exposures and covariates. In the pooled sample, 22.8% of youth reported paternal violence victimization, and 18.8% of youth reported peer violence perpetration in their lifetime. Youth who experienced paternal violence had a greater odds of perpetrating peer violence (OR = 1.74, 95% CI: 1.50-2.02), compared with youth who did not experience paternal violence and after controlling for maternal violence victimization and other covariates. Structural equation model results revealed that approximately a quarter of the total association between paternal violence victimization and peer violence perpetration was mediated by youth mental distress and alcohol use. Our study underscores the role of fathers in the context of parental violence against youth and highlights the need for multicomponent and two-generation violence prevention interventions that address paternal violence and support youth psychosocial wellbeing to prevent cycles of violence perpetration against youth in sub-Saharan Africa.
Keywords: Fathers; Life course; Peers; Sub-saharan Africa; Violence; Youth.
Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.