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Developing a Culturally and Trauma-Informed Teen Dating Violence Algorithm: A Continuation of the VIP Study

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $600,000)

TDV is a critical CJ issue that disproportionately impacts adolescent females. Developing structured risk assessments for TDV is a first step towards developing more comprehensive prevention protocols for this problem. In response, the current investigative team launched the NIJ-funded Vulnerability, Impairment, and Promotive (VIP) factors study in 2019 to develop a data-driven, trauma-informed, and culturally competent TDV-perpetration risk algorithm. In sum, 584 at-risk adolescents (ages 12-17), balanced concerning gender (51% male) and race/ethnicity (30% Black; 30% White; 20% Hispanic), completed questionnaires on trauma-exposure, dynamic risks and strengths, and TDV-perpetration. Eighty percent of the sample was retained (N=458) during six and 12-month online follow-up assessments. Preliminary results demonstrate that:

- Hypervigilance to threat and socio-emotional deficits collectively mediate the relation between trauma exposure and TDV-perpetration.
- Cultural identity and interpersonal well-being buffer against TDV-perpetration risk.
- The trauma-informed dynamic risks better forecast prospective TDV-perpetration compared to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) screening.

Thus, the VIP study introduces a novel, theoretically informed assessment protocol that measures dynamic risks and strengths for TDV but still adheres to the CJ system’s mandate for trauma-informed protocols. The proposed study seeks to continue the VIP study by completing four more annual self-report assessments with the original VIP sample. For the current proposal, approximately half of the adolescents will be 18 or older at baseline. Emerging adulthood represents an at-risk age for dating violence, in particular sexual subtypes. To date, however, most research either stops assessing TDV by age 18 or relies on retrospective assessments with adults. This project will test the validity of the VIP risk assessment for predicting dating violence across adolescence and emerging adulthood by extending the original VIP study. A secondary goal is to test the statistical fairness of the VIP risk assessment. By leveraging the strengths of multi-level, growth curve modeling and evidence-based medicine analytic approaches, this study will ensure potential age, gender, and racial/ethnic biases do not exist in the underlying theoretical model nor the algorithms intended for legal and clinical decision-making. Finally, the original VIP study collected information on experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, positioning the study to be the first to examine how the pandemic created and exacerbated, risk for dating violence during the adolescent-adult transition. By addressing the proposal’s aims collectively, this study can provide the foundation for a more accurate, equitable, and useful approach for dating violence risk assessment across development.

Date Created: October 21, 2021