This study utilized cross-lagged longitudinal models to examine prospective, bidirectional relationships between witnessing violence and victimization and three adjustment variables—delinquency, conduct problems, and school connectedness. Participants included 603 early adolescent boys and girls (78% African American, 20% Caucasian). Witnessing violence was related to subsequent lower levels of school connectedness and more conduct problems. For Caucasian but not African American adolescents, witnessing violence also predicted later delinquency. Victimization was linked with lower school connectedness over time, and for boys but not girls also with more conduct problems. Only adolescent delinquency was associated with subsequent witnessing violence and victimization.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Bartholow, B. D., Bushman, B. J., & Sestir, M. A. (2006). Chronic violent video game exposure and desensitization to violence: behavioral and event-related brain potential data. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 42, 532–539. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2005.08.006.
Blum, R. W., & Libbey, H. P. (2004). Executive summary. The Journal of School Health, 74, 231–232.
Bond, L., Butler, H., Thomas, L., Carlin, J., Glover, S., Bowes, G., & Patton, G. (2007). Social and school connectedness in early secondary school as predictors of late teenage substance use, mental health, and academic outcomes. Journal of Adolescent Health, 40, 357. e9–357.e18.
Catalano, R. F., Haggerty, K. P., Oesterle, S., Fleming, C. B., & Hawkins, J. D. (2004). The importance of bonding to school for healthy development: findings from the Social Development Research Group. The Journal of School Health, 74, 252–261.
Crouch, J. L., Hanson, R. F., Saunders, B. E., Kilpatrick, D. G., & Resnick, H. S. (2000). Journal of Community Psychology, 28, 625–641. doi:10.1002/1520-6629(200011)28:6<625::AID-JCOP6>3.0.CO;2-R.
Cullerton-Sen, C., Cassidy, A. R., Murray-Close, D., Cicchetti, D., Crick, N. R., & Rogosch, F. A. (2008). Childhood maltreatment and the development of relational and physical aggression: the importance of a gender-informed approach. Child Development, 79, 1736–1751. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2008.01222.x.
Eaton, D. K., Kann, L., Kinchen, S., Ross, J., Hawkins, J., Harris, W. A., et al. (2006). Youth risk behavior suveillance-2005. The Journal of School Health, 76(7), 353–372. doi:10.1111/j.1746-1561.2006.00127.x.
Eccles, J. (2004). Schools, academic motivation, and stage-environment fit. In R. M. Lerner, & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (pp. 125–154, 2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Eckenrode, J., Laird, M., & Doris, J. (1993). School performance and disciplinary problems among abused and neglected children. Developmental Psychology, 29, 53–62. doi:10.1037/0012-16126.96.36.199.
Elliott, D. S., Huizinga, D., & Ageton, S. S. (1985). Explaining delinquency and drug use. Beverly Hills: Sage.
Farrell, A. D., & Bruce, S. E. (1997). Impact of exposure to community violence on violent behavior and emotional distress among urban adolescents. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 26, 2–14. doi:10.1207/s15374424jccp2601_1.
Farrell, A. D., & Sullivan, T. N. (2004). Impact of witnessing violence on growth curves for problem behaviors among early adolescents in urban and rural settings. Journal of Community Psychology, 32, 505–525. doi:10.1002/jcop.20016.
Flannery, D., Wester, K., & Singer, M. (2004). Impact of violence exposure at school on child mental health and violent behavior. Journal of Community Psychology, 32, 559–574. doi:10.1002/jcop.20019.
Gorman-Smith, D., & Tolan, P. (1998). The role of exposure to community violence and developmental problems among inner-city youth. Development and Psychopathology, 10, 101–116. doi:10.1017/S0954579498001539.
Grant, B. F., & Dawson, D. A. (1997). Age at onset of alcohol use and its association with DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence: results from the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey. Journal of Substance Abuse, 9, 103–110. doi:10.1016/S0899-3289(97)90009-2.
Guerra, N. G., Huesmann, L. R., & Spindler, A. (2003). Community violence exposure, social cognitions, and aggression among urban elementary school children. Child Development, 74, 1561–1576. doi:10.1111/1467-8624.00623.
Hanish, L. D., & Guerra, N. G. (2002). A longitudinal analysis of patterns of adjustment following peer victimization. Development and Psychopathology, 14, 69–89. doi:10.1017/S0954579402001049.
Hanson, R. F., Self-Brown, S., Fricker-Elhai, A., Kilpatrick, D. G., Saunders, B. E., & Resnick, H. (2006). Relations among parental substance use, violence exposure and mental health: the national survey of adolescents. Addictive Behaviors, 31, 1988–2001. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2006.01.012.
Henrich, C. C., Schwab-Stone, M., Fanti, K., Jones, S. M., & Ruchkin, V. (2004). The association of community violence exposure with middle-school achievement: a prospective study. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 25, 327–348. doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2004.04.004.
Hindelang, M. J., Gottfredson, M. R., & Garofalo, J. (1978). Victims of personal crime: An empirical foundation for a theory of personal victimization. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger.
Hoglund, W. L., & Leadbeater, B. J. (2007). Managing threat: do social-cognitive processes mediate the link between peer victimization and adjustment problems in early adolescence? Journal of Research on Adolescence, 17, 525–540. doi:10.1111/j.1532-7795.2007.00533.x.
Hotton, T. (2003). Childhood aggression and exposure to violence in the home. Crime and Justice research paper series (Catalogue no. 85-561-MIE-No. 002). Otawa, Ontario: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.
Hu, L. -T., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6, 1–55.
Kaufman, J. G., & Widom, C. S. (1999). Childhood victimization, running away, and delinquency. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 36, 347–370. doi:10.1177/0022427899036004001.
Leiter, J., & Johnsen, M. C. (1994). Child maltreatment and school performance. American Journal of Education, 102, 154–189. doi:10.1086/444063.
Lucas, C. P., Zhang, H., Fisher, P. W., Shaffer, D., Regier, D. A., Narrow, W. E., et al. (2001). The DISC Predictive Scales (DPS): efficiently screening for diagnoses. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 40(4), 443–449. doi:10.1097/00004583-200104000-00013.
Margolin, G., & Gordis, E. B. (2004). Children’s exposure to violence in the family and community. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13, 152–155. doi:10.1111/j.0963-7214.2004.00296.x.
McCart, M. R., Smith, D. W., Saunders, B. E., Kilpatrick, D. G., Resnick, H., & Ruggiero, K. J. (2007). Do urban adolescents become desensitized to community violence? Data from a national survey. The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77, 434–442. doi:10.1037/0002-94188.8.131.524.
Mrug, S., Loosier, P. S., & Windle, M. (2008). Violence exposure across multiple contexts: individual and joint effects on adjustment. The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 78, 70–84. doi:10.1037/0002-94184.108.40.206.
O’Brien, M., John, R. S., Margolin, G., & Erel, O. (1994). Reliability and diagnostic efficacy of parents’ reports regarding children’s exposure to marital aggression. Violence and Victims, 9, 45–62.
Pearce, M. J., Jones, S. M., Schwab-Stone, M. E., & Ruchkin, V. (2003). The protective effects of religiousness and parent involvement on the development of conduct problems among youth exposed to violence. Child Development, 74, 1682–1696. doi:10.1046/j.1467-8624.2003.00631.x.
Ribbe, D. (1996). Psychometric review of traumatic event screening instrument for children (TESI-C). In B.H. Stamm (Ed.), Measurement of stress, trauma, and adaptation (pp. 386–387). Lutherville, MD: Sidran.
Rodgers, J. L., & Rowe, D. C. (1993). Social contagion and adolescent sexual behavior: a developmental EMOSA model. Psychological Review, 100, 479–510. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.100.3.479.
Sampson, R. J., & Lauritsen, J. L. (1990). Deviant lifestyles, proximity to crime, and the offender-victim link in personal violence. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 27, 110–139. doi:10.1177/0022427890027002002.
Schwab-Stone, M. E., Ayers, T. S., Kasprow, W., Voyce, C., Barone, C., Shriver, T., et al. (1995). No safe haven: a study of violence exposure in an urban community. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 34, 1343–1352. doi:10.1097/00004583-199510000-00020.
Schwab-Stone, M., Chen, C., Greenberger, E., Silver, D., Lichtman, J., & Voyce, C. (1999). No safe haven II: the effects of violence exposure on urban youth. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 38, 359–367. doi:10.1097/00004583-199904000-00007.
Schwartz, D., & Proctor, L. J. (2000). Community violence exposure and children’s social adjustment in the school peer group: the mediating roles of emotion regulation and social cognition. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68, 670–683. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.68.4.670.
Schwartz, D., McFadyen-Ketchum, S. A., Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., & Bates, J. E. (1998). Peer group victimization as a predictor of children’s behavior problems at home and in school. Development and Psychopathology, 10, 87–99. doi:10.1017/S095457949800131X.
Schwartz, D., McFadyen-Ketchum, S. A., Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., & Bates, J. E. (1999). Early behavior problems as a predictor of later peer group victimization: moderators and mediators in the pathways of social risk. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 27, 191–201. doi:10.1023/A:1021948206165.
Shochet, I. M., Dadds, M. R., Ham, D., & Montague, R. (2006). School connectedness is an underemphasized parameter in adolescent mental health: results of a community prediction study. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 35, 170–179. doi:10.1207/s15374424jccp3502_1.
Sieving, R. E., Beuhring, T., Resnick, M. D., Bearinger, L. H., Shew, M., Ireland, M., et al. (2001). Development of adolescent self-report measures from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The Journal of Adolescent Health, 28, 73–81. doi:10.1016/S1054-139X(00)00155-5.
Stouthamer-Loeber, M., Loeber, R., Homish, D. L., & Wei, E. (2001). Maltreatment of boys and the development of disruptive and delinquent behavior. Development and Psychopathology, 13, 941–955.
Thompson, M. P., Sims, L., Kingree, J. B., & Windle, M. (2008). Longitudinal associations between problem alcohol use and violent victimization in a national sample of adolescents. The Journal of Adolescent Health, 42, 21–27. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.07.003.
Tolan, P. H., Gorman-Smith, D., & Henry, D. B. (2003). The developmental ecology of urban males’ youth violence. Developmental Psychology, 39, 274–291. doi:10.1037/0012-16220.127.116.114.
Weist, M. D., Acosta, O. M., & Youngstrom, E. A. (2001). Predictors of violence exposure among inner-city youth. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 30, 187–198. doi:10.1207/S15374424JCCP3002_6.
Widom, C. S., Schuck, A. M., & White, H. R. (2006). An examination of pathways from childhood victimization to violence: the role of early aggression and problematic alcohol use. Violence and Victims, 21, 675–690. doi:10.1891/vv-v21i6a001.
This research was partially supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Grant No. R49–CCR418569.
About this article
Cite this article
Mrug, S., Windle, M. Bidirectional Influences of Violence Exposure and Adjustment in Early Adolescence: Externalizing Behaviors and School Connectedness. J Abnorm Child Psychol 37, 611–623 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-009-9304-6
- Witnessing violence
- Early adolescence
- Conduct problems
- School connectedness