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Under what contexts early-maturing girls may be at increased risk for ADA victimization is unknown.
According to the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 20% and 10% of high school-attending girls and boys, respectively, in the United States reported experiencing sexual or physical abuse by a dating partner in the past year.
The sample included 3870 girls aged 13 to 17 years, all of whom were in romantic and/or nonromantic sexual relationships.
Relative pubertal development was measured as perceived physical development as compared with peers of the same age and race and age at menarche at wave 1.
However, they did not test how the effect of pubertal timing varied as a function of adolescents’ social environment.
Although early-maturing girls may be at elevated risk for ADA, it is also true that not all early-maturing girls will be victimized.
Friendship group characteristics included the percentage of boy friends, older friends, and friends’ risk behavior level.and may have experienced a variety of hardships that limit their capacity to remove themselves from or resolve situations in sexual or romantic relationships that could become abusive.Thus, early-maturing girls may be at greater risk for ADA relative to later-maturing girls if their network includes a high percentage of boy friends, older friends, or friends who engage in risk behavior. Participants were drawn from the in-home interview sample of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health).CONCLUSIONS: Findings highlight the importance of pubertal timing and friendship group characteristics to ADA victimization.Early pubertal development is a risk marker for ADA victimization, particularly when a higher percentage of girls’ friends are boys.
Off-time pubertal development is defined as making the transition to puberty relatively earlier or later than one’s peers.