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01-07-2011 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 7/2011

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 7/2011

Depressive Symptoms Among Adolescent Girls in Relationships with Older Partners: Causes and Lasting Effects?

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 7/2011
Auteurs:
Jeni Loftus, Brian C. Kelly, Sarah A. Mustillo

Abstract

Previous research on adolescent girls in relationships with older partners suggests a range of negative outcomes for the adolescent. Using three waves of data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health and a life course perspective, we explore the connection between involvement in age discordant relationships (girls dating males three or more years older) and the course of depressive symptoms among adolescent girls. Our analyses are conducted on the 1,307 girls with data at all three waves who had been in a relationship in the last 18 months. The sample is 55% White, 22% Black, 7% other race and 16% Latina. When comparing early adolescent girls (13–15) and late adolescent girls (16–18), the younger girls are no more likely to have depressive symptoms before entry into the age discordant relationship, yet have greater depressive symptoms shortly after the relationship onset and 5 years later. Older adolescent girls in age discordant relationships, however, have similar levels of depressive symptoms at any time point relative to their peers. These data suggest that a girl’s developmental stage influences whether or not she experiences emotional distress as a result of being in an age discordant relationship.

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