The power of change: how changes in community violence and parental monitoring influence reactive and proactive aggression in at-risk youth
Objective: This study assessed the longitudinal, predictive relationships between community violence, poor parental monitoring, and aggressive behavior over time. Secondary goals included testing these relationships for reactive versus proactive aggression and assessing poor parental monitoring as a mediator in the relationship between community violence and aggression. Data for this study were collected pre- and post-tornado, providing a unique opportunity to examine the effects of changes to these variables post-disaster. Method: Community violence data was gathered from local law enforcement agencies and combined with an existing dataset of at-risk youth who were enrolled in the Coping Power Program. Data were examined over four time points (one pre-tornado and three post-tornado). Parental monitoring was self-reported by parents using the Alabama Parenting Questionnaire and aggression was assessed by teachers using the Reactive and Proactive Aggression Questionnaire. Results: Autoregressive cross- lagged modeling (ACLM), a type of structural equation modeling, was used to test four primary models. Results revealed negative relationships between community violence and both types of aggressive behavior and positive relationships between poor parental monitoring and both types of aggressive behavior. Secondary and exploratory analyses identified intervention type and elements of tornado exposure as moderators in the relationships between community violence and aggressive behavior. Results from this study have important implications for natural disaster relief and preventive interventions for at-risk youth, as well as provide a basis for further examination of children’s resiliency following trauma exposure.