Examining the link between neighborhood context and parental messages to their adolescent children about violence

Sarah R. Lindstrom Johnson, Nadine M. Finigan, Catherine P. Bradshaw, Denise L. Haynie, Tina L. Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Purpose Living in violent neighborhoods has been shown to alter adolescent's social cognitions and increase aggressive behavior. A similar process may also occur for parents and result in parental support of aggressive behavior. This research examines the influence of perceived neighborhood violence and neighborhood collective efficacy on parental attitudes toward violence and the messages they give their adolescent children about how to resolve interpersonal conflict. Method Data were collected from 143 African American parents and their adolescent children recruited from three inner-city middle schools to participate in a parenting intervention. Models were fit using structural equation modeling in Mplus. Results Contrary to expectations, exposure to neighborhood violence was not predictive of either aggressive attitudes or conflict solutions for parents or adolescents. Rather, a mixed effect was found for neighborhood collective efficacy, with higher perceived neighborhood collective efficacy related to less violent attitudes for adolescents but not for parents. Collective efficacy also predicted the messages that parents gave their adolescents about interpersonal conflict, with higher collective efficacy related to messages that were less supportive of violence. Conclusion Parent and adolescent perception of neighborhood collective efficacy influences the messages that adolescents receive about interpersonal conflict resolution. This suggests that for parents living in violent neighborhoods, their appraisal of the neighborhood is more important in shaping conflict resolution messages than their own experiences with violence. Parent- and family-based programs to prevent youth violence need to address neighborhood factors that influence the messages adolescents receive about how to resolve conflict.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-63
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Collective efficacy
  • Parentchild communications
  • Parenting
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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