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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Investigators have identified a of factors that increase risk for physical and psychological dating abuse perpetration during adolescence, but as yet little is known about the etiology of sexual dating aggression during this critical developmental period. This is an important gap in the literature given that research suggests that patterns of sexual dating violence that are established during this period may carry over into young adulthood.
Risk for sexual dating aggression onset increased across early adolescence, peaked in the 10 th grade, and desisted thereafter. As predicted based on the Confluence Model of sexual aggression, associations between early physical aggression towards peers and dates and sexual aggression onset were stronger for teens reporting higher levels of rape myth acceptance.
Contrary to predictions, inter-parental violence, prior victimization experiences, and parental monitoring knowledge did not predict sexual dating aggression onset. Findings support the notion that risk factors may work synergistically to predict sexual dating aggression and highlight the importance of rape myth acceptance as a construct that should be addressed by violence prevention programs. Yet, while a growing body of research has examined the etiology and development of physical and psychological dating aggression during adolescence e.
Extant research on adolescent sexual dating aggression has focused primarily on victimization rather than perpetration and nearly all studies examining sexual dating aggression have used a cross-sectional de. As a result, we have a limited understanding of the etiology and course of sexual dating aggression during this critical developmental period. This is a ificant gap in the literature given empirical findings that suggest that patterns of sexual aggression that initiate during adolescence may carry over into young adulthood Loh et al.
Similarly, research indicates that adolescent victims of sexual coercion may develop a pattern of continued victimization that may have cumulative effects on psychological adjustment and potential impacts on the health of future relationships Young et al. As such, research that contributes to increase our understanding of sexual dating aggression during adolescence may inform efforts to reduce or prevent this behavior and its consequences across the life-course.
To this end, the current manuscript uses a survival analysis approach to examine the timing of onset and longitudinal predictors of sexual dating aggression using data from a multi-wave study that spanned grades 8 through Sexual dating aggression may be defined as forcing a dating partner to engage in a sexual act that he or she does not or cannot e. Research also suggests that females are ificantly less likely than males to perpetrate sexual dating aggression Bennett and Finneran ; Foshee ; Munoz-Rivas et al.
In particular, several studies of U. Studies further suggest that these gender differences in sexual violence perpetration prevalence rates hold across items assessing a variety of different sexual aggression tactics ranging from rape to verbal coercion to engage in a sexual activity Munoz-Rivas et al. As such, the current study focuses on male perpetration of sexual dating aggression.
Several theoretical models have been developed to explain sexual aggression, including rape for a review, see Gannon et al. However, these models rarely have been applied in empirical research on teen dating violence. This is likely due, at least in part, to the fact that these models largely have failed to explicitly address sexual aggression that occurs in the context of a romantic relationship Monson et al.
For example, several theories that have been proposed as explanations for rape behavior were developed to explain a broad range of sexually abusive behaviors including, for example, child molestation, and thus may have limited relevance for explaining sexual aggression that occurs between dating partners. Perhaps the predominant theoretical model that was developed explicitly to explain male sexual aggression against women is the Confluence Model Malamuth et al.
The Confluence Model posits that motivation or propensity e. Additionally the Confluence Model proposes that there are both distal and proximal developmental influences on sexual dating aggression. In particular, early exposure to inter-parental violence and victimization experiences e. For example, using a sample of male college students, White and Smith found that having witnessed inter-parental violence, having been physically punished, and having been sexually abused in childhood were associated with the increased likelihood of having engaged in sexual aggression toward a woman type of relationship not specified in high school assessed retrospectively.
A limited body of research including studies examining adolescent sexual aggression against any target , also has found ificant associations between sexual aggression and several constructs that may be viewed as proximal markers of an increased propensity for engaging in sexual dating aggression, including gang membership Borowsky et al. In addition, in a cross-sectional study of high-school adolescents, Maxwell found an association between rape myth acceptance and male sexual aggression.
Rape myths function, at least in part, to explain why victims deserve their fate i. Rape myth acceptance may be a particularly important construct to examine in relationship to teen sexual dating aggression both because research with college-aged populations suggest that this is a potentially modifiable risk factor for sexual assault Anderson and Whiston However, to our knowledge, there have been no longitudinal studies that have examined whether and for whom rape myth acceptance and other propensity variables predict sexual dating aggression onset during adolescence.
Moreover, there have been no longitudinal studies that have examined either inhibitory or situational factors that lead to sexual dating aggression. Findings from their research, as well as that of others who have used this approach, suggest that individuals who score high across all predictor variables report higher levels of sexual aggression than individuals who do not Abbey et al.
This approach does for covariation that occurs among predictors and can be used to demonstrate that more risk factors are associated with lessadaptive outcomes, but it does not provide insight into how particular risk factors may interact with each other Lanza et al.
Other studies have examined the synergy hypothesis by examining interactions between constructs that may be viewed as proximal propensity variables in relationship to adult sexual aggression including interactions between the construct of impersonal sex a preference for casual, uncommitted sexual relationships , hostile masculinity Malmuth et al. The findings, in general, suggest that the strength of one proximal propensity on sexual aggression may be exacerbated by the presence of another proximal propensity.
Thus, these studies provide some empirical support that proximal propensity constructs may interact with each other in predicting sexual aggression. Furthermore, Malamuth et al. However, there has been very little empirical examination of these proposed interactions and none in relationship to adolescent sexual dating violence.
In summary, despite implying interactions, the vast majority of research that has been guided by the confluence model has not formally evaluated interaction hypotheses Jacques-Tiura et al. The purpose of the current study was to examine the timing and predictors of male sexual dating aggression onset across grades 8 through Drawing from the Confluence Model as well as the empirical research cited above, we identified several predictors that we conceptualized as indicators of an increased propensity or motivation to engage in sexual dating aggression.
These include the distal influences of having witnessed inter-parental violence and prior victimization experiences, and the more proximal influences of rape myth acceptance, peer aggression, physical dating aggression, and use of control tactics against dates. We further identified two predictors, individual social bonding and parental monitoring knowledge, that we conceptualized as markers of internal and external constraints against the use of sexual dating aggression inhibitory factors.
Selection of these variables was informed by Social Control Theory Hirschi , which suggests that individual social bonding and parental monitoring work to constrain teens from engaging in antisocial behavior Gault-Sherman , as well as longitudinal research that has found that higher levels of parental monitoring e. Figure 1 presents a conceptual model depicting expected relationships between the predictors examined in the current study and sexual dating aggression. We hypothesized that each of the distal and proximal propensity variables would be associated with increased risk of sexual dating aggression onset and that each of the constraint variables would be associated with decreased risk of onset main effects hypotheses; Figure 1 , Panel A.
First, we examined interactions between each of the four proximal propensity indicators: rape myth acceptance, peer aggression, physical dating aggression, and use of control tactics against dates. For example, we anticipated that the longitudinal association between involvement in physical dating aggression and sexual dating aggression onset would be stronger for teens reporting higher levels of rape myth acceptance than for teens reporting lower levels of rape myth acceptance.
Study Conceptual Model and Variables. As such, we reasoned that associations between the propensity to engage in aggressive behavior and aggressive behavior would be stronger for individuals reporting weaker internal and external constraints against the use of aggression. For example, we hypothesized that the association between involvement in physical dating aggression and sexual dating aggression onset would be weaker for teens reporting higher levels of social bonding than for teens reporting lower levels of social bonding.
In sum, drawing from the Confluence Model as well as empirical research, we made three hypotheses. First, propensity distal and proximal predictors would be positively and constraint predictors would be negatively associated with sexual dating aggression onset. Second, links between each proximal propensity predictor and sexual aggression onset would be stronger for individuals who reported higher levels on any other proximal propensity predictor.
Third, links between each proximal propensity predictor and sexual aggression onset would be weaker for individuals reporting higher levels of internal and external constraints against the use of sexual aggression. Cox proportional hazards models were used to examine longitudinal relationships between each predictor variable, measured at baseline among a sample of male adolescents who had not yet engaged in sexual aggression, and self-reported sexual dating aggression onset across grades 8 through Control variables included demographic covariates minority status, family structure and parent education , the proportion of waves in which an adolescent reported having dated in the past year, and baseline of dating partners.
Demographic covariates were included in models based on research suggesting that minority status e. Magdol et al. Past year dating and baseline of dating partners were included as markers denoting the extent to which an individual adolescent may have had the opportunity to perpetrate sexual aggression.
The analyses for this article are limited to male adolescents who participated in the control group of a randomized trial evaluating the effects of a dating abuse prevention program, Safe Dates Foshee et al. Adolescents were eligible for the evaluation study if they were enrolled in the eighth Cohort 1 or ninth grade Cohort 2 in one of the 14 public schools seven schools were ased to the control group in a primarily rural county in North Carolina. Follow-up data were collected seven months later Wave 2 and then yearly thereafter for four more years until the 8 th grade cohort was in the 12 th grade using the same procedures as for baseline data collection.
Students who were absent for school data collection, including those who had dropped out of school, were mailed a questionnaire to complete and return. Schools were provided with a modest incentive each year for participating in the study. No incentives were provided to teachers or students. The calendar time and grade-level for each of the cohorts across each of the study waves is presented in Table 1.
Logistic regression was used to examine predictors of drop-out, where drop-out was defined as non-participation at any wave post-baseline. Baseline sexual dating aggression as well as all study predictors and covariates were included in the model. Findings from this analysis suggest that drop-out was ificantly less likely among those who reported having been forced to have sex at baseline and was ificantly more likely among participants who were older at baseline.
Drop-out was not related to baseline sexual aggression or to any of the other covariates or predictors examined in the current study. For the analyses reported in this article, we excluded 20 boys who contributed data only at baseline because onset could not be predicted for these observations. All measures were based on adolescent self-report; see Table 2 for descriptive statistics. These items were developed to specifically map on to rape myths that were targeted by the Safe Dates program and tap into factors assessed in rape myth scales that were developed for adult populations, such as victim precipitation and blame Lonsway and Fitzgerald Physical dating aggression was assessed using the same scale as for sexual dating aggression see above; Foshee et al.
Sixteen items assessed physical aggression and ranged from relatively mild tactics e. Response options ranged from never 0 to ten or more times 3. Use of control tactics against dates was assessed by three items that were drawn from a broader scale assessing psychological dating aggression Foshee et al. Two indicators were used to assess social bonding: conventional beliefs beliefs and commitment to conventional activities commitment.
Items assessing beliefs and commitment were averaged to create subscales. Items were averaged to create a composite measure of parental monitoring knowledge. As such we refer to this variable as parent monitoring knowledge Hayes et al.Sex dating in Hoyt
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Sexual Dating Aggression Across Grades 8 Through Timing and Predictors of Onset