Since research has shown that neighborhoods play a role in the etiology of violence but few adolescent relationship aggression (ARA) studies have objective measures of violent neighborhoods, the current study drew on a nationally representative sample of youth to examine the association between ARA and local levels of violent crime (measured using geocoded Uniform Crime Report data from each of the youths’ residential neighborhoods).
Study analyses were based on survey data from 723 youth (ages 10–18) in current or recent dating relationships (351 males and 372 females) in the Survey on Teen Relationships and Intimate Violence (STRiV), a national representative household panel survey exploring interpersonal violence and related aggression among adolescents. About 19 percent of the sample reported ARA victimization in their most recent dating relationship (ARA perpetration was 17 percent). Neighborhood violent crime in the study (males living in 86.9 and females 99.8) was slightly lower than the national average of 100. With a broad national sample, 40 percent non-Whites, hypotheses guided by theories of neighborhood influence were tested. The study did not find an association between neighborhood violent crime and ARA victimization and perpetration, controlling for key demographic factors. The results, for a broad range of high- and low-crime neighborhoods, suggest that neighborhood violence does not seem to affect individual rates of ARA. The results suggest the ARA victimization and perpetration are perhaps ubiquitous and found both in low and high violent crime neighborhoods, suggesting that addressing local violent crime rates alone does not seem to be a path to also reducing ARA. (publisher abstract modified)