Violence typologies and sociodemographic correlates in South African adolescents: a three-wave cross-sectional study

Xincheng Sui*, Karlijn Massar, Robert A C Ruiter, Priscilla S Reddy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Violence victimisation and violence perpetration may co-occur in adolescents. Understanding the sociodemographic correlates of the independent and joint profiles of victimisation and perpetration may inform preventive interventions. This study examined the associations of sociodemographic factors with four violence typologies, namely, 1) non-involvement in both victimisation and perpetration, 2) victims only, 3) perpetrators only, and 4) victim-perpetrators. Trends in the prevalence of the four violence typologies over the three survey years were also examined.

METHODS: We used data from the three nationally representative South African Youth Risk Behaviour Surveys conducted in 2002, 2008, and 2011 and included a multi-ethnic sample of adolescents (n = 30,007; boy: 46.9%, girls: 53.1%; M age = 16 years, SD = .06).

RESULTS: The sample consisted of 8030 (30.8%) adolescents who had non-involvement in both victimisation and perpetration, 8217 were victims only (29.8%), 2504 were perpetrators only (9.0%), and 7776 were victim-perpetrators (24.6%). Logistic regression analyses showed that being a girl increased the odds of non-involvement (OR: 1.47, 99% CI: 1.36-1.58) and being victims only (OR: 1.90, 99% CI: 1.76-2.05). Being a boy increased the odds of being perpetrators only (OR: 0.42, 99% CI: 0.37-0.47) and victim-perpetrators (OR: 0.51, 99% CI: 0.47-0.55). Adolescents who did not have an absent mother had higher odds of non-involvement (OR: 0.78, 99% CI: 0.62-0.97). Lower monthly allowance increased the odds of victimisation only (OR: 0.99, 99% CI: 0.97-1.00), whereas higher monthly allowance increased the odds of perpetration only (OR: 1.05, 99% CI: 1.03-1.08). Trend analysis showed that between 2002 to 2011, there was an increase in the prevalence of non-involvement in adolescents (p < .001), a decrease in the prevalence of victims only (p < .05) and victim-perpetrators (p < .001), and no changes in the prevalence of perpetrators only (p > .05).

CONCLUSIONS: Sociodemographic factors are uniquely associated with different violence typologies suggesting the need for tailored interventions to target adolescents with differed risks to violence victimisation and perpetration. Strengthening family relations, particularly between mother and child, may protect adolescents from the experiences of victimisation and perpetration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number221
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2020


  • Violence
  • Victimisation
  • Perpetration
  • Adolescents
  • Trends
  • Sociodemographics

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