Abstract: The Effect of Childhood Community Factors on Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration and Victimization Among College-Aged Students (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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734P The Effect of Childhood Community Factors on Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration and Victimization Among College-Aged Students

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Yoon Joon Choi, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Georgia
Hyesu Yeo, MA, Ph.D. Student and Research Assistant, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Jungeun Olivia Lee, MSW, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Hyunkag Cho, PhD, Associate Professor, Michigan State University
Esther Son, PhD, MSW, Assistant Professor, College of Staten Island, The City University of New York, Staten Island, NY
Sung Hyun Yun, PHD, Associate Professor, University of Windsor, Windsor, ON, Canada
Background and Purpose: In the U.S., more than 10 million individuals are physically abused annually by an intimate partner. Especially, young adults between the ages of 18-24 are at the highest risk of intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration and victimization, underscoring the importance of understanding factors shaping IPV among young adults. Risk factors embedded in individuals and partners have been widely explored. However, much less is known whether community contexts, such as social cohesion, poverty, and safety during childhood contribute to IPV during young adulthood and whether this relationship differs for males and females. Such scientific knowledge can provide valuable implications for interventions taking consideration of macro contexts. To address these critical gaps, the current study aims to 1) determine the effect of community social cohesion on IPV perpetration and victimization, beyond individual and community-level covariates; 2) assess the moderating effect of social cohesion between community poverty and IPV perpetration and victimization; and 3) examine potential gender differences on 1) and 2).

Methods: A cross-sectional survey (N=2,082) was collected from seven universities in the U.S. and Canada. The dependent variables were IPV perpetration and victimization. The independent variable was community social cohesion during childhood. Community covariates were perceived safety and poverty rate during childhood. Individual covariates were experiences of violence as a child, as well as current drinking problem, drug use, individual financial situation, depression, age, gender, and race. Community poverty rates were retrieved from the 2007-2011 US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey based on the participants’ zip codes. Hierarchical regression analyses were performed to assess the effects of individual and community factors on each of IPV perpetration and IPV victimization for the total sample, as well as male and female samples, separately. Community variables having significant effects on IPV perpetration and victimization were tested for its interaction effect on dependent variables.

Results: The sample consisted of 1,567 female and 515 male students between 18 and 24. Childhood community poverty rate increased, but community social cohesion decreased IPV perpetration for female students (β = 0.03/ -0.08, p<.01), while only social cohesion decreased IPV perpetration for male students (β = -0.16, p<.01). Social cohesion moderated the relationship between community poverty rate and IPV perpetration for female students (β = -0.01, p<.01), with higher childhood community cohesion lowering the risk of childhood community poverty rate on IPV perpetration in adulthood. For IPV victimization, only female students were affected by childhood community poverty rate (β = 0.06, p<.01), while none of the community factors had any impact on male students’ IPV victimization.

Conclusions and Implications: The findings of the study illustrate that community contexts during childhood matter for later involvement with IPV beyond individual characteristics. Community cohesion is a protective factor for IPV perpetration. Our findings suggest that an ecological approach is needed to prevent and reduce IPV with comprehensive intervention strategies including individual and community factors. Second, community-level strategies for community capacity building (e.g., improving community cohesion) may be an effective way to prevent IPV, especially for low-income communities and for females