The Role of Family Processes in the Prediction of Health-Compromising and Violent Behaviors: An SEM Utilizing Longitudinal Data From High-Risk African-American Adolescents

Alexander T. Vazsonyi, Auburn University
Lloyd E. Pickering, Auburn University
John M. Bolland, University of Alabama

Despite recent decreases in crime rates, youth violence remains a serious public health concern in the United States. In light of this, criminological research must continue to identify potentially explanatory etiological factors in adolescent risky behavior. The present study examined whether family processes predicted both health-compromising and violent behaviors over time. Longitudinal data were collected from high-risk African-American adolescent males and females. The current study includes N = 3,028 adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 years (mean age = 13.5). SEM was used to model three latent constructs, namely "family," health-compromising behavior, and violence; each latent construct included 2-3 multi-item indicators at three points in time. Findings indicated that T1 "family" predicted subsequent health compromising and violent behaviors at T2 and T3. In addition, adding T2 and T3 family processes into the model slightly improved model fit and increased the amount of variance explained. SEM analyses by sex (1,568 males, 1,460 females) and age (1,220 early adolescents, 10-12 years old; 1,078 middle adolescents, 13-15 years old; 730 late adolescents, 16-19 years old) also indicated good fit for both models. Findings will also be discussed in terms of their usefulness for informing violence prevention efforts.

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Updated 05/20/2006