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Understanding the link between exposure to violence and aggression in justice-involved adolescents

  • Tina D. Wall Myers (a1), Abigail Salcedo (a2), Paul J. Frick (a3) (a4), James V. Ray (a5), Laura C. Thornton (a6), Laurence Steinberg (a7) (a8) and Elizabeth Cauffman (a9)...


The current study advanced research on the link between community violence exposure and aggression by comparing the effects of violence exposure on different functions of aggression and by testing four potential (i.e., callous–unemotional traits, consideration of others, impulse control, and anxiety) mediators of this relationship. Analyses were conducted in an ethnically/racially diverse sample of 1,216 male first-time juvenile offenders (M = 15.30 years, SD = 1.29). Our results indicated that violence exposure had direct effects on both proactive and reactive aggression 18 months later. The predictive link of violence exposure to proactive aggression was no longer significant after controlling for proactive aggression at baseline and the overlap with reactive aggression. In contrast, violence exposure predicted later reactive aggression even after controlling for baseline reactive aggression and the overlap with proactive aggression. Mediation analyses of the association between violence exposure and reactive aggression indicated indirect effects through all potential mediators, but the strongest indirect effect was through impulse control. The findings help to advance knowledge on the consequences of community violence exposure on justice-involved youth.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Tina D. Wall Myers, Department of Psychology, University of Dayton, 300 College Park, Zehler 311, Dayton, OH 45469; E-mail:


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