Risk factors have been defined as "attributes or characteristics that are associated with an increased probability of [its] reception and/or expression" (Hotaling & Sugarman, 1990 p. Risk factors are correlates of dating violence and not necessarily causative factors.
Thus, they may have implications for prevention program, but they may also be outcomes that have implications for treatment.
Although there are methodological problems accurately determining prevalence rates, a conservative estimate is that one in three adolescents has experienced physical or sexual violence in a dating relationship (Avery-Leaf, Cascardi, O'Leary, & Cano, 1997).
These rates are higher when verbal abuse is included in the definition.
Most obvious is the greater physical harm that can be inflicted by male violence due to males' often greater size and strength.
Key risk factors consistently found in the literature to be associated with inflicting dating violence include the following: holding norms accepting or justifying the use of violence in dating relationships (Malik et al., 1997; O'Keefe, 1997); having friends in violent relationships (Arriaga & Foshee, 2004); exposure to violence in one's family and community violence (Foo & Margolin, 1995, O'Keefe, 1997; Schwartz et al., 1997); alcohol and drug use (O'Keeffe et al., 1986; Silverman et al., 2001); and a having a history of aggression (Riggs & O'Leary, 1989, Chase et al., 1998).
The one factor that has consistently been associated with being the victim of dating violence, particularly for males, is inflicting dating violence (O'Keefe, 1997).
Teen dating violence appears to parallel violence in adult relationships in that it exists on a continuum ranging from verbal abuse to rape and murder (Sousa, 1999).
Teen victims may be especially vulnerable due to their inexperience in dating relationships, their susceptibility to peer pressure and their reluctance to tell an adult about the abuse (Cohall, 1999).
Further, many adolescents have difficulty recognizing physical and sexual abuse as such and may perceive controlling and jealous behaviors as signs of love (Levy, 1990).
This article provides a critical review of the research literature with respect to risk factors for both perpetrators and victims of dating violence and examines the research on the effectiveness of prevention and intervention programs.