Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 145–155 | Cite as

Family Functioning and High Risk Adolescents’ Aggressive Behavior: Examining Effects by Ethnicity

  • Angela K. Henneberger
  • Shannon M. Varga
  • Alyssa Moudy
  • Patrick H. Tolan
Empirical Research


The relationship between family functioning and adolescents’ physical aggression has been well established, but whether these relationships might differ by ethnicity has received less attention. Ethnic variations may be important for targeting prevention programs to specific youth and families. This study examined the longitudinal relationship between family cohesion, parental monitoring, and physical aggression using data from the Multisite Violence Prevention Project sample of high-risk youth (elevated aggression). Participants were 1,232 high-risk middle school students (65 % male; 70 % African American; 15 % Hispanic). Meaningful demographic variations were identified. After controlling for intervention condition and study site, family cohesion was significantly negatively related to physical aggression, more so for Hispanic youth. Parental monitoring was negatively associated with physical aggression for African American youth only. Our findings point to the importance of developing culturally sensitive family interventions to prevent physical aggression in middle school.


Physical aggression Family cohesion Parental monitoring Ethnicity 



This study was funded by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC Cooperative Agreement 1U49CE001296. The first, second, and third authors’ time was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305B090002 and R305B040049 to the University of Virginia. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the U.S. Department of Education. Henneberger’s time was partially supported by the PAMT training Grant (T32 DA017629) and award number P50 DA010075 awarded to The Pennsylvania State University from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The content does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or NIDA. The authors would like to thank David Henry for help in preparing this manuscript and Amanda Applegate for help in editing this manuscript.

Author contributions

AKH conceived of the study, performed statistical analyses, and drafted the manuscript. SMV and AM assisted with statistical analyses and drafting the manuscript. PHT conceived of the study, participated in the interpretation of the analyses, and helped to draft and edit the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angela K. Henneberger
    • 1
  • Shannon M. Varga
    • 2
  • Alyssa Moudy
    • 2
  • Patrick H. Tolan
    • 2
  1. 1.The Methodology CenterThe Pennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUSA
  2. 2.Curry School of EducationUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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