Purpose: This study examined longitudinal associations between violence involvement, substance use, and sexual activity. Methods: A total of 302 urban Mexican-American and European-American adolescents were randomly selected and recruited from the membership lists of a large health maintenance organization. Data were obtained from interviews conducted when the mean ages of adolescents were 15, 18, and 19 years. Results: Independent of age, gender, ethnicity, family socioeconomic status, and previous levels of health risk behavior, adolescents who had been victimized by violence at age 15 were more likely to use tobacco at age 19. Adolescents who had been victimized by or perpetrated violence at age 18 had a greater number of sexual partners and were more likely to use marijuana at age 19. In addition, adolescents who had perpetrated violence at age 18 engaged in greater alcohol use at age 19. A second set of analyses showed that independent of demographics and previous violence involvement, adolescents who had used marijuana at age 15 were more likely to report violence involvement at age 19. Adolescents who had used tobacco or who had a greater number of sexual partners at ages 15 or 18 were more likely to report violent victimization at age 19. Conclusions: Associations between violence involvement and other forms of health risk behavior are bidirectional. Adolescents involved with violence are at risk for increases in substance use and sexual behavior over time. Adolescents who engage in substance use and sexual behavior with multiple partners are also at risk for later violence involvement.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by grants MNCJ-060623 and R40MC00118 from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Title V, Social Security Act), the Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, awarded to Jeanne M. Tschann. Sonya S. Brady was funded by a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (T32 MH019391 ) while she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California–San Francisco. We would like to thank the families who participated in the Adolescent Health Research Project. We also thank the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute, E. Marco Baisch, and Charles J. Wibbelsman for providing access to members of Kaiser Permanente. We thank the University of California–San Francisco Health Psychology Postdoctoral Fellows Research Group for feedback on this manuscript. We are also grateful to Lilia Cardenas, Martha Castrillo, Jorge Palacios, Philip Pantoja, and Stephanie Whitzell for assistance with data collection, and to Seth Duncan and Philip Pantoja for data management.
- Sexual behavior
- Substance use
- Violence involvement
- sexual activity