Comparisons of Types of Exposure to Violence Within and Across Contexts in Predicting the Perpetration of Dating Aggression

  • Hans Saint-Eloi CadelyEmail author
  • Sylvie Mrug
  • Michael Windle
Empirical Research


It is widely accepted that adolescents exposed to violence are more likely to become perpetrators of dating aggression. However, it remains unclear whether the effects of exposure to violence on later perpetration of dating aggression vary based on the nature of the violence exposure (e.g., witnessing versus being a victim) and the contexts of exposure to violence. Thus, the relationships between two types of exposure to violence (witnessing and victimization) in early adolescence and perpetrating dating aggression in late adolescence were compared within and across three social contexts: the home, the community, and the school. Participants included 484 youth (51% females; 81% African–Americans, 18% European–Americans, 1% Hispanic or Other). Information on exposure to violence were collected at Waves 1 and 2 during early adolescence (Wave 1: M = 11.8 years old; Wave 2: M = 13.2 years old) and dating aggression data were collected during late adolescence (Wave 3: M = 18.0 years old). The results showed that across all contexts witnessing violence was a more consistent predictor of later dating aggression relative to victimization. Being exposed to violence in the home either via observation or victimization was a stronger predictor of physical dating aggression and threatening behaviors compared to being exposed to violence in the school. These findings provide a deeper understanding of the roles of various forms of exposure to violence during early adolescence in perpetrating dating aggression later in the life course.


Adolescence Dating aggression Exposure to violence Witnessing Victimization 



This research was supported by grants K01DA024700 from the National Institutes of Health to S.M. and R49-CCR418569 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to M.W.

Authors’ Contributions

H.S.C. conceived of the study, participated in its’ design and coordination and drafted the manuscript; S.M. participated in the design and interpretation of the data; M.W. participated in the design and interpretation of the data. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This research was supported by grants K01DA024700 from the National Institutes of Health to S.M. and R49-CCR418569 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to M.W.

Data Sharing and Declaration

The data that support the findings of this study are available from S.M. but restrictions apply to the availability of these data, which were used under license for the current study and are not publicly available. However, data are available from the authors upon reasonable request and with permission from S.M.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. No identifiable information from participants were included in the manuscript.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesUniversity of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA
  3. 3.Rollins School of Public Health: Behavioral Sciences & Health EducationEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA

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