Research at IRWG

Adolescent Sexual Violence: A Longitudinal Examination of Outcomes and Risk

Primary Investigator(s): 
Quyen Epstein-Ngo
In Collaboration With/Organization: 
National Institutes of Health
Award Year: 

Sexual violence (SV) claims a heavy toll on the public and economic health of youth in the United States. Approximately 1 in 10 youth report experiencing SV, although this is believed to be an underestimate given that many incidences are unreported. SV is associated with a myriad of negative health consequences including psychological distress and trauma, severe injury, unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and repeated victimization. Evidence suggests that SV perpetrators often begin patterns of aggression during adolescence, yet the research on adolescent SV is sparse. In particular, we know little about female perpetrators of SV, male victims of SV, or how adolescent SV changes over time. We propose new research to address this significant gap in the literature. This proposed secondary data analysis will inform adolescent SV prevention and intervention development by using a rich, community-based sample of adolescents to identify longitudinal trajectories of peer SV perpetration and victimization among male and female adolescents. Further, we will examine consequences of SV and individual-level psychosocial and contextual factors associated with these trajectories at the time of the initial assessment as well as over a 4 year time period. Newly available, unique data from the Secondary Student Life Survey (SSLS) study make this examination of SV possible because it features measures of SV perpetration and victimization among a racially and socio-economically diverse community-based sample of adolescents. The specific aims of this project are to: 1) Identify longitudinal trajectories of SV perpetration and victimization among female and male adolescents; 2) Identify consequences of trajectories of female and male SV perpetration and victimization at the time of initial assessment and over time; and 3) Identify correlates of trajectories of female and male SV perpetration and victimization at the time of initial assessment and over time. These aims will be addressed through analysis of existing data from the SSLS, based on a sample of 5,217 adolescents ages 12-18 years of age from five separate secondary schools located in southeast Michigan. Adolescents received an annual web-based survey over 4 years (2009/10 – 2012/13) with measures covering a broad range of behavioral, psychosocial, familial, and community factors. The study also includes panel data from 1,076 adolescents, followed longitudinally over a 4-year period. 

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