Early puberty, friendship group characteristics, and dating abuse in US girls


Chen, Frances R.; Rothman, Emily F.; & Jaffee, Sara R. (2017). Early puberty, friendship group characteristics, and dating abuse in US girls. Pediatrics. vol. 139 (6)


OBJECTIVES: The current study aimed to investigate the relationship between advanced pubertal development and adolescent dating abuse (ADA) and to test if this relationship is moderated by friendship group characteristics in a nationally representative sample of US girls.METHODS: Data were drawn from wave 1 and 2 (1995–1996) of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. The sample included 3870 girls aged 13 to 17 years, all of whom were in romantic and/or nonromantic sexual relationships. Relative pubertal development was measured as perceived physical development as compared with peers of the same age and race and age at menarche at wave 1. Participants reported at wave 2 whether they had experienced any verbal or physical abuse in their relationships. Friendship group characteristics included the percentage of boy friends, older friends, and friends’ risk behavior level.RESULTS: Negative binomial regression analyses revealed an interaction between advanced pubertal development and percentage of boy friends on ADA victimization, adjusted for age, race, parents’ marital status, household income, number of relationships, self-esteem, self-control, and antisocial behavior history. Advanced pubertal development was associated with more ADA victimization when girls’ friendship groups comprised a higher percentage of boys.CONCLUSIONS: Findings highlight the importance of pubertal timing and friendship group characteristics to ADA victimization. Early pubertal development is a risk marker for ADA victimization, particularly when a higher percentage of girls’ friends are boys. Pediatricians and adolescent health specialists should be sensitive to the elevated risk for ADA victimization in early-maturing girls.




PMID: 28562261

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Journal Article

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Chen, Frances R.
Rothman, Emily F.
Jaffee, Sara R.

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