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Family Instability and Exposure to Violence in the Early Life Course

NCJ Number
Journal of Research on Adolescence Volume: 28 Issue: 2 Dated: 2018 Pages: 456-472
Shannon E. Cavanagh; Haley Stritzel; Chelsea Smith; Robert Cronoe
Date Published
17 pages

Since family instability has been linked with a host of outcomes across the early life course, the current study extended this literature by connecting instability with violence in the community by examining the associations among family structure, family structure change, and secondary exposure to violence during adolescence across diverse segments of the population.


Using longitudinal data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, the current study found that living with a single parent and experiencing family structure changes were associated with secondary exposure to violence. Multiple group models suggest that partner change translated into more exposure for boys than girls. Findings also suggest that family instability may lead to more secondary exposure to violence for African-American youth. (publisher abstract modified)