An Examination of Moderators of Use of Violence by Adolescents
Jeffries, Rosell L.
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This project examined the extent to which psychosocial or personal variables moderated the relationship between exposure to violence and use of violence in adolescents. The relationship between exposure to violence and use of violence was examined within a sample of adolescents, ages 13 -18. The major goals of this study were to examine some possible correlates of violence use and to determine the extent to which certain personal variables (i.e., locus of control, social skills, feelings of despair, and certainty of being alive at age 25) operate as protective or vulnerability factors for those adolescents at risk for violence. The conceptualization of this study was based on the framework of the compensatory and protective vs. vulnerability models. As hypothesized, a strong relationship between exposure to community violence and use of violence was found in this study. In addition, level of despair was also correlated with use of violence. No relationship was found between use of violence and the following variables: exposure to domestic violence, certainty of being alive at age 25, social skills, or locus of control. Further, none of the psychosocial variables tested in this study were found to moderate the relationship between use of violence and exposure to domestic and community violence combined. However, when exposure to community and domestic violence were analyzed separately, two interaction effects were found. Social skills did appear to have a slight moderating effect on the relationship between exposure to domestic violence and use of violence. Also, certainty of being alive at age 25 was found to interact with exposure to community violence to influence use of violence. Specifically, the belief that one would not live to be age 25 operated as a vulnerability mechanism. The findings of this study best supported the compensatory model as one conceptualization of use of violence.
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