Precocious and Problematic? The Consequences of Youth Violent Victimization for Adolescent Sexual Behavior

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Abstract: Purpose: Violent victimization is concentrated in adolescence and is disruptive to both the timing and sequencing of key life course transitions that occur during this developmental stage. Drawing on recent work establishing the interpersonal consequences of youth victimization, we examined the effect of violent victimization on adolescents’ timing of sexual debut and involvement in additional sexual risk behaviors (multiple sexual partnering and inconsistent contraceptive use). Methods: This study relied on secondary data analysis of 10,070 youth from four waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). To predict sexual debut and subsequent sexual risk-taking, analyses were limited to youth not yet sexually active at their wave I interview. Results: Findings from Cox proportional hazards models, negative binomial regression, and repeated measures ordinal logistic regression showed that adolescent victims of violence initiated sex sooner than non-victims and accumulated more sexual partners, but patterns varied by age at victimization. Youth victimized in late adolescence displayed an accelerated trajectory of sexual activity while youth victimized in early adolescence were less likely to debut or engage in other sexual risk behaviors (although younger victims were more likely to engage in other deviant activities). Conclusion: Sexual activity is a normative part of adolescent development, yet this study finds that violent victimization may disrupt the timing of this life course task, exacerbating deviant risk-taking and undermining youths’ subsequent well-being. This study also highlights the importance of life course criminology’s attention to timing in lives, given that the consequences of victimization varied by the age when it occurred.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)554-586
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Life-course criminology
  • Sexual debut
  • Sexual risk-taking
  • Victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Law
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Precocious and Problematic? The Consequences of Youth Violent Victimization for Adolescent Sexual Behavior'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this