Parental monitoring of children exposed to community violence: Predicting externalizing behaviors

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Annette M. La Greca - Committee Chair


Exposure to community violence is a serious problem that has been associated with externalizing behaviors in children. In addition, parental monitoring is a familial factor that has been strongly associated with children's behavioral problems. The current study investigated parental monitoring as a protective moderating factor that may buffer the relationship between exposure to community violence (witnessing, victimization) and children's externalizing behaviors.Participants included 97 boys and 105 girls in the third, fourth, and fifth grades at three public elementary schools located in neighborhoods with varying risk for violent crime. Participants were primarily Latino and Black. Children reported on their exposure to community violence and the degree to which they are monitored by their parents. Participants' teachers completed a questionnaire assessing children's externalizing behaviors at school.Gender differences were initially examined. Boys evidenced more exposure to community violence and externalizing behaviors, and less parental monitoring, than girls. Boys and girls were examined separately in remaining analyses. Neighborhood differences emerged, such that both boys and girls from the high risk neighborhood had witnessed the most community violence and exhibited the highest levels of externalizing behaviors.Hierarchical logistic regression was used to test the predicted model. Results revealed different patterns for boys and girls. Both witnessing and victimization were significant predictors of externalizing behaviors for both genders. However, a significant interaction between victimization and parental monitoring emerged only for boys. With increased victimization, only well-monitored boys exhibited increased externalizing behavior problems. For girls, no interaction effect occurred.In summary, parental monitoring was found to be a moderator, but not a protective factor, of the relationship between victimization and externalizing behaviors for boys in the current sample. In addition, exposure to community violence was directly related to both boys' and girls' externalizing behaviors. Additional research in this area is warranted to further improve our understanding of the variables that are associated with children's externalizing behaviors following increased exposure to community violence. This will provide information necessary to develop effective intervention programs that target children exposed to violence, and subsequently reduce their externalizing behaviors.


Psychology, Developmental; Psychology, Clinical; Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

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