Recent research shows that violence in early dating experiences can contribute to “a cycle of interpersonal violence through adulthood.”
A study cited in the Journal of Adolescent Health analyzed data from a nationally representative sample of U.S. high school and middle school students, ages 12 to 17, who were followed into adulthood five and twelve years later. Compared to people who did not experience victimization during adolescence, those who experienced teen dating violence were more likely to report physical intimate-partner violence in later years.
Published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the study, which controlled for a variety of risk factors, demonstrates that adolescent dating violence (ADV) “is uniquely implicated in a cycle of interpersonal violence from adolescence to adulthood, even when differences between victims and non-victims are carefully accounted for”.
That finding underscores the “critical need to intervene with adolescents experiencing dating violence, to prevent this cycle from beginning. It also adds to the literature demonstrating the key importance of adolescent romantic relationships in shaping youth development.” Previous research has indicated that about 10% of adolescents report experiencing physical dating violence, while others experience threats, name-calling, or other forms of abuse. In the study sample, the prevalence of intimate-partner violence for ADV victims was 29% at five-year follow-up, and 17.5% at twelve-year follow-up. We need to find ways to support adolescent victims of dating violence and provide effective wrap-around services that address the risks these adolescents may experience.
Bottom Line for Mentors and Mentoring Organizations
As the research above indicates, the experience of dating violence during the teen years is associated with recurring interpersonal violence years later. Early detection and support could be a crucial component to short-circuiting this cycle.
Mentors and mentoring programs may be in a position to identify potential dating violence issues even before parents or friends, given their trusted status with the mentee. As such, they can serve as an additional layer of protection for dating youth. This relationship can also provide an opportunity to discuss healthy dating behaviors and habits, helping adolescents set expectations around romantic relationships at a time when emotional, behavioral, and physical changes can be sources of confusion. Mentors can not only provide protection in the near term, but also can reduce the likelihood of experienced interpersonal violence later in life.
Our Kinship program offers the opportunity to create this this type of relationship. A small investment of time and energy creating a mentoring relationship could be the critical component in preventing unhealthy and even violent relationships from developing or resulting in trauma. If you are a good listener, a friend, and a responsive adult; you have the qualifications to make a huge difference in the life of a young person in our community. Please consider doing so. Contact us for more information at 218.847.8572 or firstname.lastname@example.org.