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Direct and Indirect Effects of Neighborhood Characteristics on the Perpetration of Dating Violence across Adolescence


Chang, Ling-Yin; Foshee, Vangie Ann; Reyes, Heathe Luz McNaughton; Ennett, Susan T.; & Halpern, Carolyn Tucker (2015). Direct and Indirect Effects of Neighborhood Characteristics on the Perpetration of Dating Violence across Adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 44(3), 727-744.


Neighborhood context plays a role in the development of adolescent health risk behaviors, but few studies have investigated the influence of neighborhoods on the perpetration of dating violence. This longitudinal study examined the direct effects of risky neighborhood structural and physical characteristics on trajectories of the perpetration of dating violence, tested whether collective efficacy mediated these relationships, and determined if the effects varied by the sex of the adolescent. Adolescent data are from a multi-wave longitudinal study from grades 8 to 12; neighborhood data were collected from parents' interviews and U.S. Census data. Multilevel growth curve models were conducted with 3,218 students; the sample was 50 % male, 41 % White, 50 % Black, and 9 % other race/ethnicity. In models examining risky neighborhood variables one at a time, and controlling for potential individual-level confounders, the sex of the adolescent interacted with economic disadvantage, residential instability, and physical disorder; these risky neighborhood characteristics increased risk for girls' but not boys' perpetrating of dating violence. In full models with all of the risky neighborhood variables, the sex of the adolescent continued to interact with neighborhood economic disadvantage; living in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods increased girls' but not boys' risk for dating violence across all ages. No other risky neighborhood effects were found for boys or girls. Collective efficacy did not mediate the relationships between other neighborhood characteristics and the outcome. These findings suggest that dating violence prevention strategies for girls should consider the contexts in which they live rather than only targeting changes in their individual characteristics.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Youth and Adolescence


Chang, Ling-Yin
Foshee, Vangie Ann
Reyes, Heathe Luz McNaughton
Ennett, Susan T.
Halpern, Carolyn Tucker