Rural Neighborhoods and Child Aggression
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Structural equation modeling with latent variables was used to evaluate the direct and mediated effects of a neighborhood risk factor (negative teen behaviors) on the parent-report aggressive behavior of 213 students in grades 3 through 5 attending a school in a low-income, rural community. Contagion and social control hypotheses were examined as well as hypotheses about whether the neighborhood served as a microsystem or exosystem for rural pre-adolescents. Analyses took into account the clustering of students and ordinal nature of the data. Findings suggest that rural neighborhoods may operate as both a microsystem and exosystem for children, with direct contagion effects on their aggressive behaviors as well as indirect social control effects through parenting practices. Direct effects on aggression were also found for parenting practices and child reports of friends’ negative behaviors. Pre-adolescence may be a transitional stage, when influences of the neighborhood on child behavior begin to compete with influences of caregivers. Findings can inform the timing and targets of violence prevention in rural communities.
KeywordsNeighborhood Aggression Pre-adolescence Structural equation model Contagion Social control
The ESSP was developed in collaboration with Flying Bridge Technologies, with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Grant Numbers 1 R42 DA13865-01, 3 R41 DA13865-01S1, and 2 R42DA013865-02. Findings, opinions, and recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Flying Bridge Technologies, NIH, or NIDA.
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