Internalizing symptoms and dating violence perpetration in adolescence.
Yu R., Pepler DJ., van de Bongardt D., Josephson WL., Connolly J.
BACKGROUND: Increasing evidence suggests an association between internalizing symptoms and violence against others. It remains unknown whether this link exists in the context of romantic relationships. In the current study, we tested whether anxiety and depression were associated over time with adolescent dating violence perpetration. METHODS: The sample included 238 Canadian adolescents (42% boys). Using a longitudinal design, their anxiety, depressive symptoms, and dating violence perpetration were annually assessed from age 14 to 15 years. RESULTS: Cross-lagged analyses revealed effects from anxiety and depressive symptoms to dating violence one year later (β = 0.27, p < .001; and β = 0.14, p = .04, respectively). No reversed cross-lagged paths were found from dating violence to subsequent anxiety or depression. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings underscore the predictive value of internalizing symptoms on dating violence perpetration. Reducing internalizing symptoms and improving coping strategies are important targets for the prevention of dating violence.