This study assessed the longitudinal association between one community-level risk factor—income inequality—and adolescent relationship aggression (ARA) victimization and perpetration, and it also examined variations of this association by race/ethnicity, income, and/or sex.
Adolescent relationship aggression (ARA) is a prevalent public health issue with myriad adverse health outcomes. Experts suggest that a research focus on individual- and family-level risk factors for ARA has been too limited, proposing that research on the “outer layers” of the social-ecological model, including community-level risk factors, may hold promise for the development of interventions targeting ARA. The current study was based on 723 participants (351 male and 372 female participants) from the Survey on Teen Relationships and Intimate Violence (STRiV). The current study assessed data across two waves (2013 and 2016). Logistic regression models were used to assess the association between neighborhood income inequality and both ARA victimization and perpetration. Interaction terms were included to assess whether these associations varied by race/ethnicity and/or income, and analyses were stratified by sex. The study did not detect associations between income inequality and ARA victimization or perpetration in the overall sample; however, for female participants from families with more income, living in a neighborhood with more income inequality was associated with increased risk of ARA victimization (odds ratio [OR] = 1.163; p < .05). This suggests that more affluent, compared with less affluent, adolescent girls in mixed-income neighborhoods may be at increased risk of ARA victimization. (publisher abstract modified)