Adolescent intimate partner violence: The case for outcome-specific and developmentally informed guidelines to evaluate and manage risk

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
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Intimate partner violence (IPV) among adolescents, which can be defined as any actual, attempted, or threatened physical or sexual harm between intimate partners aged 12 to 17, is an ongoing, serious, and global problem. Although structured decision-making tools have been developed to evaluate an adolescent’s risk to engage in general violence and offending, it is unclear whether these tools can be used to evaluate risk to perpetrate IPV. In addition, although tools have been developed to evaluate IPV risk among adults, these tools were not intended for use with adolescents and thus may be inappropriate. In this dissertation, the utility of four widely used risk assessment tools for evaluating adolescent IPV risk was examined. First, the predictive validity of the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY), Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI), and Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version (PCL:YV) were examined for IPV perpetration and any violent and any reoffending in a sample of 156 young offenders on probation in Western Canada. Results indicated that total scores and summary risk ratings on the SAVRY and YLS/CMI and total scores on the PCL:YV were significantly predictive of any violent and any reoffending with moderate to large effect sizes over a 2-year follow-up period but were modestly and non-significantly associated with the perpetration of IPV. Second, a systematic review was conducted to evaluate the applicability of items on an adult IPV tool, the Spousal Assault Risk Assessment Guide - Version 3 (SARA-V3), to adolescents. A total of 71 articles (N = 45,202 adolescents) that address risk and/or protective factors associated with adolescent IPV perpetration or victimization were examined. Most SARA-V3 items were found to have empirical support among adolescents. However, results also indicate that several factors should be added, removed, or altered to better reflect developmental considerations among this age group. These findings suggest that the field would benefit from the development of a specialized adolescent IPV risk assessment and management tool. This dissertation concludes with a discussion of the steps being taken to adapt the SARA-V3 for use with adolescents and implications for research, policy, and practice.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Douglas, Kevin S.
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