Pathways from Early Family Violence to Adolescent Reactive Aggression and Violence Victimization

Kristin J. Perry, Jamie M. Ostrov, Shannon Shisler, Rina D. Eiden, Amanda B. Nickerson, Stephanie A. Godleski, Pamela Schuetze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The current study examined how early childhood (EC) family violence and risk (i.e., maternal aggression, sibling aggression, environmental risk) predicted early adolescent (EA) reactive physical and relational aggression and violence victimization through middle childhood (MC) parenting (i.e., guilt induction, power assertive discipline). Mother-infant dyads (N = 216; 72% African American) were recruited as part of a larger longitudinal study on prenatal cocaine and other substance exposure. Observations, interviews, and maternal and child self-report measures were collected from dyads in early childhood (1 to 36 months), middle childhood (84 months), and early adolescence (12 to 15 years). A cascading path model was specified where current variables were regressed on variables from the preceding time point. Primary results showed that environmental risk and EC child physical aggression predicted higher levels of MC caregiver power assertive discipline, which subsequently predicted lower levels of EA reactive relational aggression. Maternal substance use in pregnancy and the child’s continuous placement with biological caregivers predicted higher levels of reactive physical aggression in EA. Finally, MC physical aggression and EA reactive relational aggression predicted higher levels of EA violence victimization. There were a series of direct paths from early childhood family violence and demographic factors to reactive aggression and violence victimization. The current study underscores the importance of evaluating multiple facets of family violence and risk when evaluating aggressive behavior and victimization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-86
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Family Violence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Law
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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