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Youth Violence and Victimization: Predicting Responses to Peer Aggression

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $150,000)

Youth violence is a troubling phenomenon, with often serious outcomes. Youth violence is violence or aggression perpetuated by or targeted against youth and includes many forms such as violent crime, physical violence (e.g., fighting, use of firearms), and the numerous manifestations of bullying (e.g., overt, social/relational, and cyber bullying). New research is needed to enhance our understanding of the factors and processes associated with youth violence. The proposed research will focus on key factors within individuals and multiple contexts that may robustly predict the perpetration and amelioration of violence among youth but that have received scant attention in previous research, especially in concert with each other. Specifically, the factors within individuals we will examine include cognition (e.g., attitudes towards retaliation and bystander intervention) and social-emotional adjustment (e.g., rejection sensitivity, affect, aggressive behavior and victimization) while the multiple contexts will include peer (e.g., characteristics and status of peer group, sociometric and perceived popularity), school (e.g., school connectedness, student-teacher relationship), and family contexts (e.g., attachment, family hostility). Furthermore, we will employ variable-oriented analyses along with complementary person-oriented analyses to provide additional insights into youth violence (Bergman & Trost, 2006; Sterba & Bauer, 2010). The proposed research aims to understand adolescents’ attitudes and judgments surrounding peer aggression, with attention both to attitudes surrounding bystander intervention to stop aggression and retaliation when exposed to such aggression. The proposed project will be a year-long longitudinal study with 6th graders and 9th graders (N = 1000) in order to identify factors related to responses to peer aggression and to examine these relations over time. All measures used have strong reliability and validity. We expect contextual factors at Time 1 to predict cognition regarding retaliation and bystander intervention and for those attitudes to predict behavioral reports of aggression and bystander intervention at Time 2. Data analyses will be conducted using Structural Equation Modeling, Latent Profile Analysis, ANOVAs and logistic regression. This research will identify relations between multiple factors (social-emotional, peer, school and family), which may contribute to 1) bystander intervention to prevent youth violence and 2) condoning violent retaliation. This research will be used to inform the development of interventions and screenings to identify youth at risk for engaging in retaliatory violence. This project will lead to academic and policy-oriented publications and a rich quantitative dataset which will be archived for future use. ca/ncf
Date Created: September 16, 2016