Victimization Mediates the Longitudinal Association Between Depressive Symptoms and Violent Behaviors in Adolescence.
Yu R., Branje S., Meeus W., Koot HM., van Lier P., Fazel S.
Despite evidence of a positive link between depressive symptoms and violent behaviors, the pathways underlying this longitudinal association remain unknown. Depressive symptoms might drive and reinforce victimization which in turn could increase risk of individuals becoming violent towards others. Thus, we tested whether victimization mediated the link between depressive symptoms and violent behaviors using a 6-year longitudinal study of a community sample of adolescents. The sample included 682 Dutch adolescents (54% boys) from an ongoing longitudinal study RADAR (Research on Adolescent Development and Relationships). From ages 13 to 18 years, depressive symptoms, victimization experiences, and violent behaviors were annually assessed. We conducted longitudinal mediation analyses to test pathways to violence in adolescents with depressive symptoms. Longitudinal analyses revealed that victimization mediated the association between depressive symptoms and violent behaviors from early to late adolescence. As part of this, we found that adolescents' depressive symptoms predicted victimization, and this victimization increased risk of subsequent violent behaviors. In conclusion, links between depressive symptoms and violent behaviors are potentially important to understand adolescent development. Decreasing the occurence of victimization is likely to be an important target for the prevention of violent behaviors in adolescents with depressive symptoms.