Awarded Research Grant to Prevent Violence and Violence-Related Injury
This study examines developmental pathways of violence perpetration among young women and men who have grown up in severely distressed neighborhoods of the inner city and are now mothers and fathers. It focuses on young parents’ resiliency in challenging circumstances, as demonstrated by their ability to avoid violence with family members and others and to engage in pro-social parenting practices that are negatively associated with child maltreatment and the development of aggression in the next generation. Researchers will survey a sample of young African-American and Latino parents who began participation in a longitudinal study, Reach for Health (RFH), when they were in middle school, about a decade ago. With funding from National Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), researchers have followed more than 1,000 young people from adolescence into high school and beginning adulthood, documenting multiple forms of violence perpetration and victimization, including high levels of physical aggression, as well as suicidal behaviors, and most recently, intimate partner and sexual violence. Findings from this work highlight the need to better understand shared and unique risk and protective factors for violence perpetration among young adults who have grown up in violent contexts and become parents in their teens and early twenties.
Two primary research questions are addressed in this project: How do past experiences with violence shape parenting attitudes and practices as well as ongoing involvement in violence? What protective factors foster resiliency in the face of adversity, leading to less violent pathways among young mothers and fathers? To answer these questions, RFH participants who have become mothers and fathers will be re-contacted and surveyed to investigate the inter-relationships among multiple forms of violence toward self and others during the critical developmental stage of early parenting.
The specific aims are:
- Identify concurrent protective factors that foster resiliency in young mothers and fathers, as demonstrated by low levels of multiple forms of violence perpetration (i.e., intimate partner violence, sexual violence, violence toward other adults, violence toward self).
- Identify concurrent protective factors that foster resiliency in young mothers and fathers, as demonstrated by parenting attitudes and practices associated with low risk of child maltreatment and nonaggressive behavior in offspring.
- Examine interconnections among multiple forms of violence perpetration and parenting attitudes and practices associated with low risk of child maltreatment and nonaggressive behavior in offspring.
- Identify developmental pathways that lead to lower violence perpetration and parenting attitudes and practices associated with low risk of child maltreatment and nonaggressive behavior in offspring.
- Determine whether protective factors, interconnections among forms of violence, and developmental pathways differ for mothers and fathers.
- Use findings to inform strategies for addressing multiple forms of violence in young parents’ lives, including key messages that can be incorporated into parent education and community violence prevention programs.