April 2007

IZA DP No. 2753: Physical Dating Violence Among College Students in Chile

Jocelyn A. Lehrer, Vivian L. Lehrer, Evelyn L. Lehrer, Zhenxiang Zhao

published in: Journal of Women's Health, 2010, 19(5), 893-902

Dating violence is a serious public health concern both per se and because victimization in the young adult years can be a precursor to more severe incidents of domestic violence later, in the context of cohabitation or marriage. To date, no quantitative studies have examined dating violence among college students in Chile. To address this gap, a survey on this topic was administered to students at a major public university. The present analyses focused on the female sample (n=441). Generalized ordered logit models were used to assess factors associated with physical victimization since age 14, considering three categories: no victimization, victimization with no injury, and victimization with injury. Approximately 21% of subjects reported one or more incidents of physical dating violence not involving injury since age 14, and another 5.0% reported at least one incident resulting in injury during this time period. The corresponding figures for the past 12 months were 12.9% and 2.4%, respectively. Childhood sexual abuse and witnessing domestic violence as a child were associated with substantially elevated odds of physical victimization later in life. Low parental education was also associated with higher vulnerability, in part because of its linkage with childhood experiences with aggression. Protective factors included maternal employment and religious service participation at age 14, residence in the parental home during the college years, and never having had sexual intercourse. The findings suggest that it would be desirable to develop public health initiatives to prevent and respond to this form of violence among Chilean college students.