Alcoholic Parents and Dating Violence

In a long-term study of youth development, researchers at the University of Buffalo have 20130225_booze_bottles_LARGEidentified a link between parental behavior and teen dating violence. Specifically, children of alcoholic parents tend to participate in abusive behavior toward others and violent behavior toward dating partners.(1)

The link between parental and child behavior may not be genetic, but is established very early in the child’s development, well before the teenage years.

This belies the notion of “staying together for the good of the children.” In the case of alcohol abuse, staying together harms children early in their development, and can affect behavior as teens and probably as young adults.

One short-coming of the study is an exclusive focus on alcoholic fathers. There’s a lot more that we need to know regarding alcoholic mothers or situations in which both parents are alcohol or drug abusers.


  1. Jennifer A. Livingston, Rina D. Eiden, Jared Lessard, Meghan Casey, James Henrie, Kenneth E. Leonard. Etiology of Teen Dating Violence among Adolescent Children of Alcoholics. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 2017; DOI: 10.1007/s10964-017-0730-4
  2. University at Buffalo. “Parents’ alcohol use can set the stage for teenage dating violence, study finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 October 2017. <>.


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