Method: Tenth and 11th grade female students were drawn from a longitudinal family-focused preventive intervention combined with academic tutoring called SAFEChildren that began in 1997. The total sample recruited was 308, of which 165 were female. Girls who were African American (52.1%) or Hispanic (47.9%) and reported having ever dated someone were included in the sample, resulting in a final sample of 140. Participants were administered The Victimization and Perpetration in Dating Relationships Scales as a component of their assessment. It was created from a combination of introductory dating questions from the Conflict in Adolescent Dating Relationships Inventory and four scales: 1) Safe Dates--Physical Violence Victimization, 2) Physical Violence Perpetration, 3) Psychological Abuse Victimization, and 4) Psychological Abuse Perpetration Scales. The following risky sexual behaviors were assessed: ever having had vaginal sex, oral sex, number of sex partners, number of times had sex in past-year, condom use, pregnancy, drug or alcohol use during most recent sexual encounter, and needle use.
Results: Thirty-five percent of African American and Hispanic girls reported having experienced at least one instance of physical victimization in a dating relationship and 56% reported having experienced at least one instance of psychological victimization. Hispanic girls were significantly more likely than African American to report higher levels of psychological victimization [F(1, 138) = 35.42, p = 0.04], but no more likely to report physical victimization. Fifty-one percent of African American and Hispanic girls reported having displayed at least mild psychological aggression in a dating relationship, and 37.1% reported having perpetrated at least some physical aggression. African American girls reported significantly higher levels of perpetration of physical dating violence than Hispanic girls [F(1, 138) = 4.56, p = 0.03], but there was no difference in psychological perpetration of violence in dating relationships. Additional analyses were conducted to examine the sexual risk behaviors of African American and Hispanic girls who had been victimized and/or had perpetrated dating violence. Girls who reported both victimization and perpetration were significantly more likely to have had vaginal sex and reported a higher number of past-year sexual partners than the victimization only group.
Implications: Our findings suggest a strong need for future prevention efforts in the area of dating violence among adolescents to unequivocally include content on female perpetration. Due to the rates of dating violence perpetration and victimization among African American and Hispanic adolescent females within this sample, it is recommended that this study be replicated with a larger sample of minority females.