Community Violence Exposure and Aggressive Behavior Problems Among Adolescents: Does Child Maltreatment Moderate the Longitudinal Associations?
The current study examined associations between adolescents’ community violence exposure (CVE) and their aggressive behavior problems across two waves of data approximately one and a half years apart and whether child maltreatment experiences moderated these associations. This study builds on Dr. Trickett and her colleagues’ work examining the associations between various forms of violence exposure and adolescents’ psychosocial functioning. The sample were 389 adolescents (248 maltreated, 141 comparisons; average age 12.10 years) who participated in the second and third wave of a longitudinal study examining the impacts of child maltreatment on adolescent development. Cross-lagged analyses for the full sample indicated that early CVE did not predict later aggressive behavior problems but early aggressive behavior problems predicted later CVE. Results of analyses examining moderation by maltreatment type indicated bidirectionality in the longitudinal associations for both non-maltreated comparison adolescents and maltreated adolescents with no history of physical abuse; that is, early CVE predicted later aggressive behavior and early aggressive behavior predicted later CVE. No such associations were observed for adolescents with histories of physical abuse. Results have several implications for practitioners and policymakers. For practitioners these include, improved and routine assessment of adolescents’ violence exposure, and tailoring interventions to specific types of violence exposure. For policymakers, implications include increasing the public’s awareness of violence through public health campaigns and continued support of empirically supported interventions. Collaborative efforts between researchers, practitioners, and policymakers could ensure that the benefits of violence research can more effectively impact children and adolescents, families, and communities.
KeywordsCommunity violence exposure Aggressive behavior problems Child maltreatment Adolescent outcomes
The authors would like to express their gratitude for the indelible mark that Penny made on those she collaborated with and mentored; the world is better because she was in it. The authors also want to acknowledge the National Institutes of Health for the grant that supported this research: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development RO1-HD39129 (PI: Trickett). The content is solely the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily represent the official views of National Institutes of Health or the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development.
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