Emancipated Foster Youth and Intimate Partner Violence: An Exploration of Risk and Protective Factors


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Due to their high rates of parental maltreatment and violence exposure, youth in the foster care system are considered particularly vulnerable to experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) in adolescence and young adulthood. Those who have emancipated from foster care may be at a heightened risk, as they are significantly more likely to struggle in a variety of critical domains (i.e., mental health, substance use, and delinquency). This longitudinal study is the first to explore the impact of demographic, individual, family, and foster care system factors on IPV involvement for foster care alumni at age 23/24. Analyses were conducted on three waves of quantitative data from the Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth (the Midwest Study). We find that approximately 21% of the young adults in our sample were involved in some type of IPV at age 23/24, with bidirectional violence the most commonly reported form. Males were more likely than females to report IPV victimization, whereas females were more likely than males to report IPV perpetration and bidirectional violence. Young adults who reported parental IPV prior to foster care entry were more likely to be involved in bidirectionally violent partnerships than nonviolent partnerships in young adulthood, as were young adults who reported neglect by a foster caregiver and those who reported greater placement instability while in the foster care system. Anxiety at baseline increased the odds of IPV perpetration at age 23/24, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at baseline decreased the odds of IPV perpetration at age 23/24. Understanding the characteristics and experiences that place these young adults at risk for IPV will allow for more effective and targeted prevention efforts.

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