Paul J. Fleming

Electronic Dating Abuse: A longitudinal examination of precursors and sequelae

Research Project Description
Paul J. Fleming, Justin E. Heinze

Intimate partner violence (IPV) among adolescents is a serious health concern in the United States: nationally representative data indicate that 1 in 5 teen girls and 1 in 10 teen boys experienced physical and/or sexual dating violence within the previous 12 months (Vagi et al. 2015). IPV in adolescence not only leads to later IPV, but also sets adolescents on a trajectory that includes later depression, suicidal ideation, chronic diseases, substance use behaviors, and risky sexual behaviors. One critical and newly emerging area of adolescent IPV prevention is Electronic Dating Aggression (EDA). EDA is psychological and/or sexual abuse perpetrated utilizing electronic devices or platforms, including coercive control, harassment, or stalking that may be exercised through email, instant messaging, social networking, texting and sexting. One in 4 teens have been the victim of EDA in the previous 12 months and 1 in 10 have admitted to perpetrating EDA in the previous 12 months (Zweig et al., 2013a). Cross-sectional evidence suggests that EDA in adolescence is linked to physical IPV and other negative developmental outcomes, but data on EDA is scarce and no longitudinal studies have examined this question. Cross-sectional analyses demonstrate that EDA is associated with in-person physical IPV, engaging in delinquent behaviors, and depressive symptoms. There is an urgent need to better understand the impact of EDA on adolescent developmental trajectories and modifiable factors that could help prevent EDA. To address this gap, we propose to conduct secondary data analyses on four waves of survey data from a diverse sample of students (n=1236) in southeast Michigan. This data was collected using an accelerated longitudinal design following a sample of two cohorts (starting in 6th and 9th grade), stratified by poverty and community violence indicators, each year as part of the SHARE study (U01-CE002115). This data has rigorous measures of EDA, in-person IPV, and other developmental outcomes. Our proposed research aims to: (Aim 1) Group adolescents by profiles of EDA perpetration/victimization and in-person physical IPV perpetration/victimization using Latent Transition Analysis and identify socio-demographic and developmental correlates of group membership and transitions between groups over time. (Aim 2) Test the hypothesis that LTA profiles will significantly predict negative developmental outcomes trajectories. (Aim 3) Identify modifiable individual-level, family-level, and school-level factors that predict LTA group membership and transitions between groups over time. Each of these analyses will examine differences in by gender and age (early adolescence vs. later adolescence). The proposed longitudinal analyses will provide key information that can inform interventions focused on preventing EDA, and teen dating violence more broadly. Upon completion of these research activities, our team will be poised to conduct a follow up study developing and evaluating a replicable intervention to prevent EDA.

Funding:
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
(1R03HD09505301A1)

Funding Period: 1/10/2019 to 12/31/2020

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