Child Abuse And Adolescent Dating Violence Criminology Essay


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IPV is a contemporary issue in the world. In the United States, 29% of women and 23% of men had experienced IPV. IPV includes physical, psychological and sexual violence (Coker et al., 2002). The word 'intimate partner' suggests that perpetrators are current or former spouses and partners.

Dating Violence

According to Rennison and Welchans (2000), dating women between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four are at highest risk of IPV. There is an astonishing high frequency of dating violence among schooling adolescents with 32% reported having experienced it in physical or psychological forms (Halpern, Oslak, Young, Martin, and Kupper, 2001).

Child Abuse

The cycle of violence hypothesized that children who experienced abuse are more vulnerable to become victims or perpetrators of violence in later age (Heyman & Sleps, 2002). According to Feiring and Furman (2000), they might socialize with defiant peers and select romantic partners within the group during adolescence and adulthood. It could also be due to the possibility that abused children come from disadvantaged families and adverse background which expose them to risk factors such as economic and cultural influences which encourage later aggression (Neugebauer, 2000).

Limitations of Past Researches

A lot of researches neglected the effects of child abuse on adolescent dating violence and also the effects of adolescent dating violence on IPV. Women who had experienced adolescence dating violence between the ages of twelve to nineteen are found to be at risk of IPV in young adulthood (Smith, White, & Holland, 2003).

Biased samples. Samples used for past researches were often found to be biased due to the stereotype-driven selection and schema of a violence perpetrator or victim.

Marital status. Past research that studied the correlation between child abuse and adult IPV used biased samples. Most samples used are married individuals instead of a mixture of dating and cohabiting individuals.

Gender. In many studies, it was assumed that women are victims and men are perpetrators hence non-representative samples were often used (Chen & White, 2004). The fact that men could be victims of women's psychological and physical abuse was ignored (Rennison & Welchans, 2000).

Causes of Violence

The causes of violence were explained using Urie Bronfenbrenner's (1979) ecological system theory and Albert Bandura's (1977) social learning theory.

Ecological system theory. Heise (1998) proposed a framework for studying violence against women using the ecological system theory. He suggested that there are three risk factors: individual, situational and sociocultural factors. For instance, men face a higher risk of perpetrating IPV if they witnessed domestic violence or received abuse as a child. These incidents shaped up their tendency to be physically violent. The exosystem which comprises of social risk factors such as low socioeconomic status and delinquent peers association put women at risk of being victims of violence.

Social learning theory. This theory proposes that behaviors are observed and learned. Victims of child abuse grow up with the belief that aggression solves inter-personal conflicts and thus become perpetrators. They might also become victims of IPV due to learned helplessness.

The Present Study

Data of 4,191 samples from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) were used. These samples had completed three waves of interview and are at least age 22 or older (have completed at least four years of their young adult lives). Respondents were asked several questions adapted from the revised Conflict and Tactics Scale (CTS) (Straus, Hamby, Boney-McCoy, & Sugarman, 1996). Those questions are related to IPV in terms of both perpetration and victimization. Demographic data such as family structure, parents' income, age, gender, educational level, relationship status, immigrant status, race and ethnicity were also collected.

Results are grouped into three categories: no IPV, less severe IPV, and more severe IPV. The independent variables are child abuse and adolescent dating violence victimization. Out of the entire sample, 986 were perpetrators and 1039 were victims of young adult IPV. 61% of the perpetrators and 53% of the victims are female. IPV perpetrators and victims are more likely to be female, black, cohabitating and have less than a college education. Their parents also have the lowest income.

IPV perpetration. Child abuse are adolescent dating violence victimization are predictive of IPV perpetration. Child abuse victims have 97% higher odds of perpetrating violence. Victims of more severe dating violence are 82% more likely to perpetrate and victims of less severe dating violence increases the likelihood by 60%.

IPV victimization. Child abuse and both forms of adolescent dating violence victimization are predictive of IPV victimization. Respondent with higher socio-economical status are less likely to be victimized. Female are more at risk of being victims.


The study proved that child abuse and adolescent dating violence victimization do have a correlation with IPV. The variables work independently instead of working as an interaction to cause IPV. Higher parental income or socioeconomic status serves as a protective factor for IPV. The results and outcome of women being more likely to be victimized and to perpetrate was unexpected as most studies portray women only as victims. This could be due to the possibility that women are perpetrators and victims concurrently. Their perpetration is driven by the instinct to fight and protect themselves (Chen & White, 2004). In future studies, the impact of witnessing IPV should also be included as a variable. Lastly, interventions such as counselling and education of adolescents on healthy relationships should be carried out to break the vicious cycle of violence (Foshee et al., 1998).

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