The Promotive and Protective Effects of Family Factors in the Context of Peer and Community Risks for Aggression

  • Kramer-Kuhn A
  • Farrell A
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Abstract

A clearer understanding of the promotive factors that reduce adolescents' involvement in aggression and the protective factors that mitigate the influence of risk factors that emerge during adolescence is needed to inform prevention efforts. This study examined the promotive and protective influences of family factors on physical aggression using data collected from aggressive and socially-influential adolescents (N = 537; 35 % female) at the beginning of sixth grade and at three subsequent waves across the following 3 years. Family characteristics (i.e., better family functioning, higher perceived parental support for nonviolence, and lower parental support for fighting) at the start of the sixth grade exerted promotive effects that reduced levels of aggression at subsequent waves. Some support was also found for protective influences. A foundation of good family functioning at the start of sixth grade buffered adolescents from the risks from delinquent peers, from the spring of sixth grade to the spring of seventh grade. Low parental support for fighting reduced risks associated with witnessing community violence, from the fall to the spring of sixth grade, but at low levels of risk only. These findings suggest that interventions targeting high-risk adolescents might benefit by enhancing both promotive and protective family factors.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Aggression
  • Protective factors
  • Risk factors

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