An Exploratory Study of Teen Dating Violence in Sexual Minority Youth
Reuter, Tyson R.
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Objective: Teen dating violence (TDV) is a significant public health problem in adolescence with high prevalence and serious consequences. Despite advances in identification of risk factors, prevention efforts, and intervention, the TDV literature has overwhelmingly used samples that do not assess sexual orientation or assume heterosexuality. Although a few studies have explicitly examined TDV among sexual minorities in adolescents, methodological issues limit the generalizability of these findings, and no study to date has examined patterns of dating violence over time in sexual minority youth. Method: An ethnically diverse sample of 782 adolescents completed self-report measures of dating violence, hostility, substance use, exposure to interparental violence, and sexual orientation. Results: Sexual minority adolescents reported higher rates of both TDV perpetration and victimization, and this finding persisted across two years for perpetration, but not victimization. Findings also revealed that traditional risk factors of TDV (i.e. substance use, exposure to interparental violence) were not associated with TDV for sexual minority youth, though sexual orientation itself emerged as a risk factor over and above covariates when considering severe (i.e. physical and sexual) dating violence perpetration. Conclusions: Sexual minorities may be at a greater risk for TDV than their heterosexual peers. Findings are discussed within the context of a minority stress model. Future research is needed to parse out factors specifically related to sexual orientation from a stressful or invalidating environment.