Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Research demonstrates that children and adolescents experience a wide range of exposure to violence with rates ranging from 20% and 50% (Finkelhor & Dziuba-Leatherman, 1994; Finkelhor et al., 2005; Zimmerman & Posick, 2016). Violence exposure has been associated with several negative outcomes including biological, psychological, family-based, and academic problems. Further, studies have examined potential protective factors that may buffer against these consequences, with inconsistent results surrounding the roles of coping and social support. However, many of these studies use either an overly generalized definition of both violence exposure and/or social support or use very specific type of violence within a small age group. The present study investigated frequency of violence exposure across multiple settings and social support subtypes and coping. The purpose was to examine potential protective factors that can apply to a wide range of adolescents. Specifically, the study examined whether perceived support (i.e., family, friend, teacher) and coping style (i.e., negative, positive) lessened the impact negative psychological functioning following various types of violence exposure. Participants were 239 adolescents residing in high-crime neighborhoods. Results of the present study provide information on various contextual settings and types of violence, along with subsequent protective social support factors and identified negative coping as a risk factor. Specifically, violence exposure predicted internalizing symptoms but not externalizing symptoms. Teacher support consistently mediated the relationship between all types of violence exposure and internalizing symptoms. Additionally, the role of negative coping on psychological functioning following violence exposure supported previous research, but the role of positive coping did not.



Committee Chair

Kelley, Mary Lou