Trajectories of Adolescent Dating Abuse Perpetration and Victimization: The Impact of Pubertal Timing and the Role of Peer Context Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Russell, Ashley Brooks
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Health Behavior
  • Although pubertal timing has been associated with many adolescent health risk behaviors, its relationship to dating abuse has rarely been considered. This dissertation utilized structural equation modeling to investigate associations between the pubertal timing of boys and girls and developmental trajectories of adolescent dating abuse perpetration and victimization from grades eight to 12 (Study 1), and examine theoretically-based processes through which pubertal timing influences the development of dating abuse (Study 2). The data for these studies come from a multi-wave study of adolescents conducted from 2002 to 2005 in two rural counties in North Carolina. Three cohorts of students completed questionnaires in school beginning in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, every six months for six waves, and one year later for a total of seven waves. The first study (n=2,053) used two theoretical models, the early maturation model and the off-time model, to propose hypotheses about associations between pubertal timing and trajectories of dating abuse. After testing the relationships using two measures of pubertal timing and four dating abuse outcomes for boys and girls, one significant finding emerged. As hypothesized for girls, early pubertal timing versus all others was related to an increase in psychological dating abuse victimization in eighth grade. There were no significant associations between pubertal timing and dating abuse for boys after including control variables. The second study (n=1,092) expanded on the first by utilizing social network data to characterize an adolescent's peer context and test if peer context, as well as individual characteristics, mediate the relationship between pubertal timing and psychological dating abuse victimization for girls. Pubertal timing was related to friend substance use and friend substance use and emotional distress were related to psychological dating abuse victimization, but none of the mediators accounted for a significant indirect effect. The few significant findings limit implications for practice. Nonetheless, evidence from numerous other studies indicates the timing of puberty increases risk for several problems behaviors. Further research is needed to identify the processes through which pubertal timing impacts these risky behaviors, regardless if dating abuse is also implicated.
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  • In Copyright
  • ... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education.
  • Foshee, Vangie
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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