Ecological influences on self-esteem and violent behavior among Latino, African-American, and Euro-American Youth: An investigation of mediating and moderating effects



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Texas Tech University


This study utilizes an Ecological Systems framework to conceptualize how various biopsychosocial factors influence violent behavior in adolescents. Violence, particularly in youth under the age of 21, has reached epidemic proportions. Existing research related to clinical implications and intervention strategies are often contradictory and confusing. Structural equation modeling was used to investigate the socialization influences of Neighborhood Disorganization, Parental Violent Behavior, Lack of School Initiative, and Lack of Peer Connection and their impact on Self-Esteem and Adolescent Violent Behavior. Additionally, the study explores the mediating and moderating effects of Self-Esteem, Ethnicity, Socioeconomic Status (SES), and Gender on Adolescent Violent Behavior. Findings suggest that Neighborhood Disorganization, Parental Violent Behavior, and Lack of School Initiative displayed significant unidirectional relationships with self-esteem and Adolescent Violent Behavior. It was determined that self-esteem mediated the relationship between the socialization variables and Adolescent Violent Behavior. SES and ethnicity were determined to have a moderating effect on the full structural model. There were no significant differences in relation to gender and the socialization variables, however. The results and clinical implications are discussed. Findings support the use of existing, empirically validated systemic-based therapies in Marriage and Family Therapy. The strengths and limitations of the study and the direction for future research are set forth.



Mediating effects, Ecological model, Adolescents, Violence