Adverse Childhood Experiences and Risk of Physical Violence in Adolescent Dating Relationships

Published in: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, v. 65, no. 11, Nov. 2011, p. 1006-1013

Posted on RAND.org on November 01, 2011

by Elizabeth Miller, Joshua Breslau, W-J Joanie Chung, Jennifer M Green, Katie A. McLaughlin, Ronald C Kessler

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BACKGROUND: This study evaluates associations of commonly co-occurring childhood adversities with physical violence in dating relationships to identify potential strategies for refining and targeting dating violence prevention programmes. METHODS: Data on 5130 adult respondents to a nationally representative survey with at least one dating relationship before the age of 21 years were analysed. Logistic regression models assessed associations between 12 childhood adversities and physical dating violence (PDV). RESULTS: Adjusting for the number of co-occurring adversities, 10 of the 12 childhood adversities were significantly associated with PDV perpetration or victimisation (OR 1.5–2.8). The population attributable risk proportion of PDV due to all 12 childhood adversities was 53.4%. Childhood adversities with the highest attributable risk proportions were sexual abuse (13.8%), interparental violence (11.6%) and parent mental illness (10.7%). Multivariate prediction equations ranked respondents by their childhood adversity risk profiles; 46.4% of PDV cases occurred in the top two risk deciles. CONCLUSIONS: Assessment of a broad range of childhood exposures to familial adversities may help to identify adolescents at particularly high risk of PDV and to guide prevention efforts.

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