Adolescent Romantic Relations and Sexual Behavior: Theory, Research, and Practical Implications

By Paul Florsheim | Go to book overview

10
The Development of Aggression
in Young Male/Female Couples
Deborah M. Capaldi
Oregon Social Learning Center
Deborah Gorman-Smith
University of Illinois at Chicago

Physical aggression in adolescent relationships is a relatively new Weld of research, with empirical work beginning only in the early 1980s. As with many other mental health issues in childhood or adolescence, research in this area has primarily been a downward extension of research conducted with adults. Much of the focus of work with adults has been based on feminist theories of partner violence. A commonly held belief was that women stayed in violent relationships because of factors that made it difficult for them to leave, such as economic dependence and having children (Straus, 1976). It therefore came as a surprise to the domestic violence Weld when studies found relatively high rates of physical aggression toward a partner occurring among adolescent dating couples. Prevalence rates of perpetration or victimization among adolescents range from 20% to 60% (Bergman, 1992; Foshee et al., 1996; Jaffe, Sudermann, & Reitzel, 1992; Jezl, Molidor, & Wright, 1996). Furthermore, the prevalence of physical aggression toward a partner has been found to be highest at young ages and to decrease with time (Gelles & Straus, 1988; McLaughlin, Leonard, & Senchak, 1992). As a result of these startling findings, questions immediately arose regarding the nature and extent of the problem. Some of the questions researchers have recently attempted to address include: the degree to which such aggression is related to later marital aggression; why dating couples engage in physically aggressive behavior; the seriousness of the aggression; and the predictors, associated risk factors, and future outcomes of such aggression. We attempt to address these issues in this chapter by presenting an early life-span developmental-contextual model focusing on family-of-origin processes, the development of antisocial behavior, peer deviancy training, and

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