Beliefs and Practices of the Parents of Violent and Oppositional Adolescents: An Ecological Perspective
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Parenting is a transactional process, influenced by the child’s behavior and the environmental context. The present study explores the beliefs and practices of parents of aggressive and oppositional adolescents to understand better the relation among parenting practices, context, and youth violence. Parents of juvenile offenders (N=203) completed assessments of youths’ violent and oppositional behaviors, community violence exposure, and their own beliefs and parenting behaviors and perceptions of the juvenile justice system. Parents of youth with the highest levels of violent and oppositional behavior problems reported elevated feelings of hopelessness regarding the child’s future, inadequacy as a parent, fear of physical harm by the child, anger toward the child, as well as difficulty monitoring the child. All parents reported relatively high levels of perceived support by the justice system. Parental stress was also examined as a possible influence on the parents’ beliefs and behaviors regarding the child. Results suggest that parents’ emotional and behavioral responses should be addressed when intervening with juvenile offenders.
Editors’ Strategic Implications: The authors present evidence to suggest that parents’ perceptions of hopelessness/inadequacy and their fear for their child’s safety are both by-products of life with an aggressive child as well as contributing factors to that aggressive behavior. Thus, successful interventions must both target the parents as change agents in the youth’s life but also include a strong parental support component, so that parents will have an opportunity to orchestrate positive impacts in high-risk environments.
KEY WORDS:parenting delinquency youth violence prevention juvenile justice community violence exposure
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