Adolescent Risk of Dating Violence and Electronic Dating Abuse: A Latent Class Analysis

Thulin EJ, Heinze JE, Kernsmith P, Smith-Darden J, Fleming PJ. Adolescent Risk of Dating Violence and Electronic Dating Abuse: A Latent Class Analysis. J Youth Adolesc. 2021;50(12):2472-2486. doi:10.1007/s10964-020-01361-4.


Electronic forms of dating violence among youth are common yet little is known about how these forms of violence overlap with the commonly studied domains of physical, sexual and verbal teen dating violence. Using factor analysis and latent class analysis, this study identifies patterns of electronic, verbal, physical and sexual dating violence victimization and perpetration in 9th and 12th graders. Data are from 470 9th (n = 190; 60.5% female; mean age = 12.0 years, age range: 11.3-13.8) and 12th graders (n = 280; 63.9% female; mean age = 14.9 years, age range: 14.0-16.6) from southeastern Michigan. A 5-class solution for 9th graders and a 6-class solution for 12th graders were selected given fit and interpretability. Classes were characterized by domain(s) of violence, as opposed to perpetration or victimization. Three domains of electronic dating aggression were identified: monitoring, harassment, and coercion. Electronic dating aggression was present in the majority of classes, and overlapped substantially with other domains of violence. The highest risk class had risk of victimization and perpetration for all types of dating violence (electronic monitoring, electronic harassment, electronic coercion, verbal violence, physical violence and sexual violence). Drug use and experiencing one or more adverse childhood experiences predicted membership in a higher risk group for the older cohort, while alcohol consumption predicted higher risk for the younger cohort. The findings from this study show overlap between dating violence domains and imply that domains of electronic dating violence are important to consider in conjunction with physical, sexual and verbal domains, to address teen dating violence.

Keywords: Dating violence; Electronic dating aggression; Intimate relationships; Perpetration; Technology.