Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Committee Chairperson

Angela T. Clarke, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kimberly Levan, Psy.D.

Committee Member

Jodi McKibben, Ph.D.


Prior research suggests that perceived support protects youth from externalizing problems that are typically associated with exposure to violence. The current study examined the extent to which perceived parental support (PPS) moderated the relationship between exposure to community violence and aggression among 130 high school students (78% Black/African American; 63% female; M age = 15.78), most from low-income families, in communities characterized by concentrated poverty and high rates of violent crime. This cross-sectional study utilized baseline data from two earlier studies evaluating a cognitive-behavioral, preventative intervention group for high school students living in or attending schools in low-income, urban neighborhoods in two communities in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Consistent with hypotheses, PPS was negatively correlated with adolescent aggression and high school girls reported greater perceived parental support than boys. However, contrary to hypotheses based on prior research with youth in middle school, neither gender nor perceived parental support served as a protective-stabilizing moderator of the relationship between exposure to violence and aggression among these high school students. Post-hoc analyses found that exposure to community violence alone explained 17% of the variance in adolescent aggression and that their perceived parental support contributed over and above violence exposure to their aggressive behavior, with both factors explaining 21% of the variance in adolescent aggression. Since PPS served as a promotive factor, rather than a protective factor, enhancing adolescents’ perceptions of their relationships with their caregivers may be a reasonable path to reducing their risk for aggression despite their exposure to violence within their community.

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Psychology Commons