Document Type


Date of Original Version



Human Development and Family Studies


It is widely accepted that adolescents exposed to violence are more likely to become perpetrators of dating aggression. However, it remains unclear whether the effects of exposure to violence on later perpetration of dating aggression vary based on the nature of the violence exposure (e.g., witnessing versus being a victim) and the contexts of exposure to violence. Thus, the relationships between two types of exposure to violence (witnessing and victimization) in early adolescence and perpetrating dating aggression in late adolescence were compared within and across three social contexts: the home, the community, and the school. Participants included 484 youth (51% females; 81% African–Americans, 18% European–Americans, 1% Hispanic or Other). Information on exposure to violence were collected at Waves 1 and 2 during early adolescence (Wave 1: M = 11.8 years old; Wave 2: M = 13.2 years old) and dating aggression data were collected during late adolescence (Wave 3: M = 18.0 years old). The results showed that across all contexts witnessing violence was a more consistent predictor of later dating aggression relative to victimization. Being exposed to violence in the home either via observation or victimization was a stronger predictor of physical dating aggression and threatening behaviors compared to being exposed to violence in the school. These findings provide a deeper understanding of the roles of various forms of exposure to violence during early adolescence in perpetrating dating aggression later in the life course.