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Commissioned Paper for National Institute of Justice Research Meeting on Longitudinal Data on Teen Dating Violence

NCJ Number
Dorothy L. Espelage Ph.D.
Date Published
June 2011
40 pages
This paper prepared for the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) research meeting on Longitudinal Data on Teen Dating Violence identifies relevant studies on longitudinal datasets that address specific types of issues related to teen dating violence.
The literature review focused on longitudinal datasets in which teen dating violence (TDV) measures could potentially be added in subsequent data-collection waves, as well as those data sets where TDV outcomes have been collected but may not have been analyzed as the primary research questions. The literature review concludes that current understanding of the consequences of dating violence stems largely from cross-sectional studies or longitudinal studies that have major threats to internal validity, questionable sampling techniques, and assessment/questionnaires with weak psychometric properties. Many of the longitudinal studies are part of randomized clinical trials or effectiveness evaluations of dating-violence intervention. Students, schools, and communities that participate in an intervention study are inherently a biased sample; therefore, the data are compromised to some extent once an intervention is implemented. Ongoing surveillance studies often assess TDV perpetration and victimization with single-item indicators, which is understandable given the multitude of phenomena under investigation; however, these types of studies will never permit a complex understanding of TDV. Over-reliance on studies in which youth/adolescents self-report on their own individual attitudes and behaviors presents a limited picture of TDV risk and protective factors. Peer-level variables using ego-centered methods should be collected in order to determine how peers and friendship patterns buffer or exacerbate the risk for dating violence perpetration and victimization. TDV is a gendered interaction; however, very little longitudinal work has adopted a gendered framework. Despite a number of theoretical frameworks that have been proposed for TDV and intimate partner violence, many of these remain untested, given the dearth of longitudinal studies that focus on TDV. 31 references