Immigration-Based Disparities in Adolescent Girls' Vulnerability to Dating Violence

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ObjectivesLittle data exists on dating violence among immigrant adolescents. The present study assessed disparities in experiences of physical and sexual dating violence based on immigrant status and language spoken at home among a large representative sample of adolescent girls.MethodsData from the 1997–2003 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (N = 7,970) were analyzed. Adjusted logistic regression analyses were conducted among the full sample and sexually active sub-sample. To further clarify immigration-based effects, separate analyses were conducted within age and racial/ethnic groups.ResultsBeing an immigrant was found to be protective against dating violence (OR 0.77, CI 0.60–0.98), but not among those reporting sexual intercourse. Stratified analyses revealed important differences in these effects based on age and race/ethnicity; only immigrant girls age 16 or older (OR 0.69, CI 0.48–0.99) and Hispanic immigrant girls (ORs 0.39–0.54) reported reduced risk for dating violence as compared to their non-immigrants peers. No differences in vulnerability to dating violence were detected based on immigrant status for Asian, Black, or White adolescents in stratified analyses.ConclusionsThe social context of immigration may offer protection regarding adolescent girls' vulnerability to dating violence, but effects are not uniform across age, sexual experience, or race and ethnicity. Additional research is needed to understand how immigration, social behavior, age, race and ethnicity may interact to produce disparities in vulnerability to gender-based violence.

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