Abstract: Inequities in Economic Security: Possible Enduring Effects of Adolescent Dating Violence (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Inequities in Economic Security: Possible Enduring Effects of Adolescent Dating Violence

Saturday, January 14, 2023
Camelback A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Ashley Rousson, MSW, Predoctoral Research Associate, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Laurie Graham, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland at Baltimore, MD
Jungeun Olivia Lee, MSW, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Todd Herrenkohl, PhD, Professor, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, MI
Catriona Skarnes, MSc, Masters Student, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Background and Purpose: Socioeconomic insecurity (i.e., poor educational attainment, unemployment, and financial insecurity) is responsible for a range of health problems in adulthood. Research has repeatedly found a relationship between adolescent dating violence (ADV) victimization and lower academic achievement in adolescence, a well-known risk factor for socioeconomic insecurity during adulthood. Less clear is whether the unique impact of ADV victimization has an enduring effect on socioeconomic security in adulthood. To help fill this knowledge gap, this prospective study investigated the longitudinal relationships between ADV victimization in adolescence/emerging adulthood (age 14–23) and educational attainment, employment status, and measures of financial security (i.e., food insecurity, receipt of public assistance) in adulthood (age 31 – 41). Given research linking ADV with poorer academic outcomes and poor academic outcomes with socioeconomic insecurity, we hypothesized that experiences of ADV during this salient period would have lasting impacts on individual socioeconomic security. Evidence of such impacts would further underscore the importance of ADV prevention for social work research, policy, and practice as a means for improving long-term socioeconomic security.

Methods: Data were from the Lehigh Longitudinal study, which began in 1973. The original sample of 457 individuals included participants followed from pre-school (18 months-6 years), through adolescence (n = 416), into adulthood (n = 357). ADV was a dichotomous measure of any physical (e.g., being beaten up) or sexual (e.g., pressured sexually) victimization by a dating partner or spouse in adolescence/emerging adulthood. Socioeconomic security was assessed using four measures—post-high school education status, current unemployment, public assistance receipt, and food insecurity status. Controls included childhood socioeconomic status, maltreatment, and IQ, and adult race/ethnicity, marital status, and high school/GED completion of participants. Analyses used logistic regression to examine the relationship between ADV victimization and each outcome, inclusive of relevant controls, and used multiple imputation to address missingness.

Results: Approximately 9% (n = 38) of the adolescent sample reported ADV victimization. After controlling for covariates, experiencing ADV was associated with 4-times higher odds of receiving public assistance (OR=4.16, 95% CI= 1.47-11.8), and almost 3-times higher odds in the experience of food insecurity (OR=2.80, 95% CI= 1.12-7.01) in adulthood.

Conclusions and Implications: Our study suggested that ADV has an enduring effect on socioeconomic security in adulthood, particularly receiving public assistance and experiencing food insecurity. We did not find evidence of ADV impacting adult educational attainment. Prior research emphasizes the significant influence of peer/dating relationships in adolescence. Within this context, our findings suggest these influences may have an enduring effect well beyond this period of development, highlighting prevention of ADV as an important area of focus to support healthy adolescent development and promote socioeconomic security in the long-term.