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Family Context Is an Important Element in the Development of Teen Dating Violence and Should Be Considered in Prevention and Intervention

NCJ Number
Date Published
National Institute of Justice
This report by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) reviews the findings from two NIJ-funded studies that focused on the family context for youth at high risk for aggression and teen dating violence.
The two studies examined possible developmental pathways, including family-based risks that contribute to, as well as protective factors that discourage, involvement in teen dating violence. Both studies examined a single sample of 185 high-risk adolescents (95 girls and 90 boys) whose fathers had problems with alcohol. This sample was part of a longitudinal study on the effects of alcohol problems on parenting and child development. One study found that mothers with alcoholic partners tended to exhibit lower warmth during the toddler years, which was associated with lower child self-regulation during preschool. This was in turn linked to aggression from childhood through adolescence. Aggression during childhood, as well as paternal antisocial behavior were associated with sibling conflict during middle childhood, which then predicted involvement in teen dating violence in late adolescence. A second study examined the role of parenting in the development of teen dating violence. It found that lower maternal acceptance and higher exposure to marital conflict in early adolescence were both independently associated with involvement in teen dating violence. In addition, this study found that maternal acceptance served as a protective factor that weakened the correlation between marital conflict and teen dating violence. Overall, positive parenting (e.g., maternal warmth and acceptance) and self-regulation were were crucial protective influences that extended to late adolescence. Implications for intervention programs are discussed.
Date Created: April 3, 2017