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The relationship of exposure to community violence among parents' psychological distress, satisfaction with life, parental socialization of emotions, & preschoolers' social emotional competence

Dissertation
Author: Shareefah N. Al'Uqdah
Abstract:
This study explored the impact of parents' community violence exposure on their parenting behaviors and overall mental health. It aimed to illustrate the effect of parents' community violence exposure on their children's functioning. A sample of 57 parents with students enrolled in Head Start programs throughout Washington, D.C. completed self-report questionnaires on community violence exposure, fear of community violence, PTSD symptoms, depressions symptoms, parenting stress, socialization practices, and life satisfaction. Parents and teachers also completed questionnaires about children's ability to regulate and understand emotions while controlling their behavior. Researchers describe such abilities as "social emotional competence." The majority of the sample reported they had either witnessed (N=38) or been a victim (N=23) of community violence. Eighteen percent of the sample reported clinically significant levels of depression. However, reports of PTSD were considerably higher; 42% of parents met the diagnostic threshold for PTSD. Parents that reported higher levels of either witnessing and/or being a victim of community violence reported higher levels of overall psychological distress. Additionally, this study found that as parents' reports of being afraid of community violence increased, their psychological distress also increased. A hierarchical regression found that children's age and gender, and parents' overall psychological distress, satisfaction with life, fear of community violence, community violence exposure, and parental socialization of emotions accounted for 35% of the variance within parents' reports of their children's social emotional competence. Overall, this study found that exposure to community violence has a complex relationship with parents' psychological functioning, parental socialization, and children's social emotional competence. Thus, future research should continue to explore the impact of community violence on families while developing early intervention strategies for parents and children.

viii TABLE OF CONTENTS DEDICATION.............................................................................................................................III ACKNOWLEDGMENTS..........................................................................................................IV ABSTRACT.................................................................................................................................VI CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION................................................................................................1 S TATEMENT OF THE P ROBLEM .....................................................................................................6 P URPOSE OF THE S TUDY ...............................................................................................................9 R ESEARCH Q UESTIONS ..............................................................................................................10 R ESEARCH H YPOTHESES ............................................................................................................10 A SSUMPTIONS ............................................................................................................................12 D ELIMITATIONS .........................................................................................................................13 D EFINITIONS OF K EY T ERMS ......................................................................................................15 S UMMARY ..................................................................................................................................16 CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF LITERATURE...........................................................................18 I NTRODUCTION ..........................................................................................................................18 P ARENTING ................................................................................................................................19 African-American Families...................................................................................................21 Parental Socialization...........................................................................................................25 Parenting Styles....................................................................................................................27 Determinants of Parenting....................................................................................................29 Parental Socialization of Emotions......................................................................................32 S OCIAL E MOTIONAL C OMPETENCE ............................................................................................34 C OMMUNITY V IOLENCE .............................................................................................................39 CHAPTER 3. METHOD............................................................................................................47 I NTRODUCTION ..........................................................................................................................47 R ESEARCH Q UESTIONS ..............................................................................................................47 R ESEARCH H YPOTHESES ............................................................................................................48 S AMPLE ......................................................................................................................................49 Gender and Minorities..........................................................................................................51 R ESEARCH D ESIGN AND M ETHODS ............................................................................................52 Procedure..............................................................................................................................52 Instruments............................................................................................................................55 Justification of Methods........................................................................................................60 D ATA A NALYSIS ........................................................................................................................61 CHAPTER 4: RESULTS...........................................................................................................62 D ESCRIPTIVE S TATISTICS ...........................................................................................................62 C ORRELATIONAL A NALYSES .....................................................................................................65 T-T ESTS AND ANOVAS (A NALYSIS OF V ARIANCE ).................................................................71 H IERARCHAL R EGRESSION .........................................................................................................78

ix CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSION.....................................................................................................81 I NTRODUCTION ..........................................................................................................................81 S OCIAL EMOTIONAL COMPETENCE .............................................................................................82 P ARENTAL S OCIALIZATION OF E MOTIONS .................................................................................85 M ENTAL H EALTH F UNCTIONING ................................................................................................87 C OMMUNITY V IOLENCE E XPOSURE ...........................................................................................93 L IMITATIONS ..............................................................................................................................98 F UTURE D IRECTIONS ................................................................................................................100 Research..............................................................................................................................100 Interventions.......................................................................................................................102 Policy..................................................................................................................................105 REFERENCES..........................................................................................................................107 APPENDICIES.........................................................................................................................114 APPENDIXA.........................................................................................................................114 Socialization Questions.......................................................................................................114 APPENDIXB.........................................................................................................................115 Community Violence Measures...........................................................................................115 APPENDIXC.........................................................................................................................116 Mental Health Questions....................................................................................................116 APPENDIXD.........................................................................................................................118 Social Emotional Competence Measures............................................................................118

x LIST OF TABLES 1.D EMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF A SAMPLE OF PARENTS AND CHILDREN WHO ARE PARTICIPATING IN H EAD S TART ...............................................................................................50 2.D EMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF A SAMPLE OF H EAD S TART TEACHERS ..........................51 3.M EAN R ATES OF C OMMUNITY V IOLENCE E XPOSURE AND F EAR OF C RIME WITHIN A SAMPLE OF P ARENTS WHO ARE PARTICIPATING IN H EAD S TART ................................................................62 4.M EAN R ATES OF M ENTAL H EALTH FUNCTIONING WITHIN A SAMPLE OF P ARENTS WHO ARE PARTICIPATING IN H EAD S TART ...............................................................................................63 5.M EAN R ATES OF P ARENTAL S OCIALIZATION OF E MOTIONS WITHIN A SAMPLE OF P ARENTS WHO ARE PARTICIPATING IN H EAD S TART ........................................................................................64 6.R ELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PARENTAL SOCIALIZATION AND BEHAVIOR OUTCOMES WITHIN A SAMPLE OF H EAD S TART PARTICIPANTS ...................................................................................66 7.R ELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MENTAL HEALTH FUNCTIONING AND PARENTING BEHAVIORS WITHIN A SAMPLE OF H EAD S TART PARENTS ...........................................................................................67 8.R ELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PARENTS ’ MENTAL HEALTH FUNCTIONING AND BEHAVIOR OUTCOMES WITHIN A SAMPLE OF H EAD S TART PARTICIPANTS ...................................................................68 9.R ELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COMMUNITY VIOLENCE EXPOSURE AND PARENTING STRESS WITHIN A SAMPLE OF H EAD S TART PARENTS ...........................................................................................69 10.R ELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COMMUNITY VIOLENCE EXPOSURE AND MENTAL HEALTH FUNCTIONING WITHIN A SAMPLE OF H EAD S TART PARENTS .....................................................71 11.M EAN DIFFERENCES FOR WITNESSING COMMUNITY VIOLENCE ON FUNCTIONING OF PARENTS AND CHILDREN WHO PARTICIPATE IN H EAD S TART ..................................................................72 12.M EAN DIFFERENCES FOR BEING A VICTIM OF COMMUNITY VIOLENCE ON FUNCTIONING OF PARENTS AND CHILDREN WHO PARTICIPATE IN H EAD S TART ...................................................73 13.M EAN DIFFERENCES FOR BEING AFRAID OF COMMUNITY VIOLENCE ON FUNCTIONING OF PARENTS AND CHILDREN WHO PARTICIPATE IN H EAD S TART ...................................................74 14.M EAN DIFFERENCES OF COMMUNITY VIOLENCE EXPOSURE ON SOCIALIZATION PRACTICES OF PARENTS WHO PARTICIPATE IN H EAD S TART ...........................................................................75 15.H IERARCHICAL M ULTIPLE R EGRESSION A NALYSES P REDICTING P ARENTS ’ R ATINGS OF C HILDREN ’ S S OCIAL E MOTIONAL C OMPETENCE F ROM P ARENTS ’ MENTAL HEALTH FUNCTIONING , SOCIALIZATION PRACTICES , AND EXPOSURE TO COMMUNITY VIOLENCE ...........79

1 CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION The African-American family roots begin in the early history of America. Sadly, both America and the African-American family grew within the institution of slavery. As such the African-American family was subjected to and possibly continues to be subjected “… to disruption, stigmatization, and economic discrimination as well as to historical examination, psychological scrutiny, and anthropological dissection” (Wilkinson, 1978, p. 848). Thus, the individual consequences of slavery may occur systemically within the African-American family. Wilkinson (1978) asserts that African-American families experiences of trauma range from physical and psychological abuse to social isolation and systematic oppression. “No other racial family unit in America has encountered the vast kaleidoscopic array of traumatizing experiences or has been described as deviant by social scientists as much as has the black American family” (Wilkinson, 1978, p. 829). Since slavery African-American parents have continued to experience trauma (Johnson, 1998). Both during slavery and after, racism and discrimination subjected African-American families to economic hardships (Johnson, 1998). Such economic hardships often contributed to African-American families residing in urban areas. Then and now many African-American families battle with the violence plaguing urban communities (Horowitz, McKay, & Marshall, 2005). The rise of violence in urban areas possibly increases African-American parents experiences of trauma (Myers & Taylor, 1998). This might be particularly true for families residing in Washington, D.C., an urban environment, that experienced a great amount of violence during the advent of crack cocaine. With the dawn of crack cocaine, Washington, D.C. crime rates skyrocketed. In the late 1980’s through early 1990’s, popular media dubbed D.C. the “Murder Capital of the World.”

2 Homicides in D.C. peaked in 1991 to 479 an increase almost three fold from the 147 murders in 1985 (A study of homicides in the district of columbia, 2001). On Valentine’s Day of 1989, 13 people were shot within 24 hours from different acts of violence (Horwitz & Goldberg, 1989). One incident involved a 15-year-old boy who allegedly shot a student at an elementary school playground over a 12-year-old girl. A 15-year-old girl was also shot in her leg while at her house.When the police entered the girl’s house, they found several firearms, bulletproof vests, and a large amount of crack cocaine. The 15 year-old girl refused to go to the hospital and was subsequently arrested (Horwitz & Goldberg, 1989). Another victim of this bloody Valentine’s Day was a 15-year-old boy who was shot eight times. These events illustrate how violence intricately affected children. The pervasiveness of drugs and crime in the community had a significant impact on family dynamics. A Washington Post article in 1989 investigated one Southeast, Washington, D.C. apartment complex to highlight the fractured family structure that exists in communities plagued with crime and drugs. The article quoted a 10-year-old girl, whose mother was addicted to crack, as saying, “I'm not being as much neglected as I was . . . . I really didn't mind my mother using crack, but I didn't like all the company that was coming in there.” The girl continues to state that, “My mother did give me money, she did send me to the store and I did eat every night. It wasn't like I was being abused or nothing like that” (Duke & Price, 1989). While the mother indicated that she would prefer her daughter not to do any drugs, she stated that such a belief is irrational. "I would be less than a parent to say that I wouldn't mind," she said. "I would rather her smoke herb (Marijuana) than take the pipe, although total 100 percent I would rather her not do anything. But that's too much to hope for. In this day and age? Living in a community like this? Let's be real” (Duke & Price, 1989).

3 This dialogue illustrates the powerful connection between community variables, parenting behaviors, and children outcomes. In the dialogue, a parent recognizes the threat of the community while acknowledging her inability to protect her child from those threats. A child attempts to reconcile her experiences by defending her mother’s drug use. The child’s denial of her abuse may force her to lower her standards of parenting to accommodate her ambivalence towards her mother. While this dialogue is shocking, it is more frightening to acknowledge that this 10-year-old girl is now within childbearing age. Such children, who experienced or witnessed extraordinary amounts of community violence and family instability, are no longer children. While the girl in the article does not represent all of the children who grew up during the height of D.C. crime, it is important to recognize that the children of the 90’s are now parents in the millennium. It is imperative that research explores the impact of these community variables on family dynamics. An ecological framework is a useful way of exploring the impact of community variables on family dynamics and later adult outcomes. (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Parenting theories that use an ecological framework consistently highlight the importance of environmental resources, stressors, and individual characteristics of the parent and child as determinants of parenting behaviors. Consequently, multiple studies have investigated families from urban areas based on the assumption that they experience more stressors with fewer resources (Luster & McAdoo, 1994; Myers & Taylor, 1998). Myers & Taylor (1998) contend that children, specifically African-American children, living in urban areas are exposed to a number of risk factors that impede their parents’ ability to protect, provide, and enrich their children’s lives. They assert that urban areas have higher rates of substandard housing, unemployment, underemployment, crime, gangs, and drugs (Myers & Taylor). Therefore, these children are exposed to community

4 violence more often (Myers & Taylor). Such community risk factors have harmful effects on their parents’ mental and emotional functioning. Although research has focused on children’s and adolescents’ responses to violence exposure, research is limited concerning adults’ reactions to violence exposure (Jenkins, 2002). Jenkins (2002) contends that if 26% to 70% of inner city children have witnessed violence, seemingly, adults in the inner city have similar exposure rates. Research indicates that it may be common for adults and children to witness the same violent acts (Self-Brown et al., 2006). In a study of 25 mothers in a Chicago public housing community, all of the women had experienced community violence as a witness, a victim, or both (Jenkins, 2002; Wolfer, 2000). The impact of community violence may result in higher levels of mental health problems (Self-Brown et al., 2006). Adults exposed to higher levels of community violence report higher levels of aggression, depression, and PTSD symptoms (Self-Brown et al., 2006). Impaired mental health may impede parents’ ability to engage in protective and nurturing parenting behaviors (Self-Brown et al., 2006). Exposure to community violence may foster within parents feelings of helplessness because of their inability to protect their children (Appleyard & Osofsky, 2003) while increasing their risk for mental health problems (Self-Brown et al., 2006). Because research links community violence to mental health problems, empirical research should explore how community violence affects family processes. However, such research is limited (Appleyard & Osofsky, 2003); thus, it is unclear how community violence affects subsequent parenting behaviors and children outcomes. Theoretical Framework This study assumes that children’s environments greatly influence their development. The basis of this assumption relies on ecological theory that explores the impact of the

5 environment on individuals behaviors (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Bronfenbrenner (1979) insisted that it is not enough to understand the specific processes related to development, but science must also illuminate how environments may “sustain, enhance, or impair the operation of these processes” (p. 845). He claimed that research was too interested in exploring the differences of people as opposed to the differences in environments from which people come. “In short, ecological perspective considers how the individual develops in interaction with the immediate social environment and how aspects of the larger social context affect what goes on in the individuals’ immediate settings” (Harrison, Wilson, Pine, Chan, & Buriel, 1990, p. 347). Three ecological systems foster children’s development (Overstreet & Mazza, 2003). The macrosystem is the most distal context for children’s development (Overstreet & Mazza, 2003). The macrosystem includes the larger society’s political and cultural values. The exosystem is the middle most context that includes the community in which the child lives (Overstreet & Mazza, 2003). The microsystem is most proximal and includes the family, school environment, and peer relationships (Overstreet & Mazza, 2003). Research suggests exposure to community violence is a risk factor within the exosystem; moreover, exposure to community violence may also disturb the microsystem and directly impact children’s development (Overstreet & Mazza, 2003). Thus, this study will address the microsystem, the family, and the exosystem, the community, and its effect on parenting behaviors and children outcomes. The ecological risk and resilience framework extends beyond the original ecological theory to assert that each context has risk and protective factors that contribute to individuals’ development (Koblinsky, Kuvalanka, & Randolph, 2006). Risk factors increase the likelihood of negative outcomes while protective factors increase the likelihood of positive outcomes (Koblinsky et al., 2006). High rates of substandard housing, community violence,

6 unemployment, and drug use are some of the many community risk factors that have been addressed in research (Myers & Taylor, 1998). Research finds that these factors increase distress within parents and children (Overstreet & Mazza, 2003). While ecological theory addresses how environments influence behavior, social learning theory describes how individuals influence behavior. Albert Bandura used social learning theory to highlight how interpersonal processes contribute to development (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Social learning theory asserts that behaviors are learned through parent-child interactions (Davies et al., 2002). The theory includes the concepts of reinforcements, awards or punishment, and modeling (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Social learning theory describes learning as a process through which individuals imitate the behaviors they observe from others (Rathus, 1990). Parents reinforce these imitated behaviors explicitly by rewards or punishment. They may also reinforce behaviors implicitly by continuing to display or model such behaviors. Teaching, reinforcing, and exposing their children to certain behaviors and attitudes are ways parents may influence their child’s development or adjustment (Denham, Zoller, & Couchoud, 1994). Hence, parents are influential in the development of children because of their consistent implicit and explicit displays and reinforcement of behaviors (Denham, Mitchell-Copeland, Strandberg, Auerbach, & Blair, 1997; Denham et al., 1994). Based on ecological risk, resiliency factors, and social learning theories, this study will explore the interaction of parental socialization of emotions, psychological distress, satisfaction with life, and exposure of community violence, and their relationship with social emotional competence ratings of preschoolers. Statement of the Problem Various studies cite the importance of parents in the development and adjustment of their children (Bogenschneider, Small, & Tsay, 1997). Generally, competent parenting fosters

7 attachment security, cooperation, compliance, and achievement in children; whereas, incompetent parenting fosters uncooperative and problematic behavior (Bogenschneider et al., 1997). Given the consistent support for the influence of parenting in a wide array of developmental outcomes, research should begin to focus on illuminating the specific factors and processes that explain individual differences in parenting styles and parental functioning (Bogenschneider et al., 1997). Environmental factors are among the many variables that may relate to different parenting styles. Bronfenbrenner (1979) insisted that in order to accurately investigate factors related to family dynamics and children’s development, social science researchers should investigate the environmental context in which parenting occurs. He felt the lack of an ecological framework, exploring the environment or context in which parenting occurs, provided only social addresses—social statuses from which people come. Hence, research results describe various social differences, low-income versus high income, Black versus White, or single- versus two-parent households, as opposed to exploring the influence of the different social environments on individuals (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Bronfenbrenner (1979) asserted, “What is needed is a systematic appraisal of the environmental stresses and supports experienced by families in our society and the effects of this experience on the family as a child-rearing system” (p. 849). Thus, while a number of studies indicate how race, social economic status, or parents’ marital status contribute to children’s development, research is still lacking on how these demographics are experienced within the family context and how the experience of such demographics contribute to children’s development. Because acts of community violence continue to rise throughout the United States (Hill & Madhere, 1996), research should continue to explore the effects of community violence on

8 families and individuals. As early as 1990, 3 million violent acts occurred near schools (Hill & Madhere, 1996). The presence of community violence has been linked to family instability and disorganization (Lynch & Cicchetti, 2002). Residing in communities stricken with high levels of community violence may heighten stress between adults. Also, community violence may exert stress on the parent-child dyad (Lynch & Cicchetti, 2002). Linares and colleagues (2001) found that the effects of community violence on preschool children between 3 and 5 years old were mediated by measures of maternal distress. “That is, many mothers were distressed themselves because of community violence, and it was their stress reactions that accounted in a large part for their observed behavior problems in their children” (Lynch & Cicchetti, 2002, p. 521). Often studies that investigate the impact of community violence on children’s functioning use children exposure rates and parent-report or teacher-report measures to assess children’s social emotional competence. Research has not sufficiently addressed if parents’ community violence exposure rates influence their rating of children’s social emotional competence. Gorman-Smith et al. (2004) indicated that current research is limited as to how family functioning may impact children exposed to community violence. They suggested that research should explore family processes in order to develop a comprehensive understanding of the impact of community violence exposure on children and families (Gorman-Smith et al., 2004). Additionally, Hill and Madhere (1996) argue that children’s exposure to community violence cannot be studied in isolation, rather it should be assessed through an ecological framework. Research indicates that exposure to community violence not only affects parenting styles, but also specific parenting abilities (Jenkins, 2002). This study attempts to assess the impact of community violence on a specific parenting process, socialization of emotions, and its relation to

9 parenting stress, mental health functioning, satisfaction with life, and children’s social emotional competence. Purpose of the Study Resiliency research indicates that despite the increased risks that many inner-city African-American families face, they continue to raise fairly competent children (Myers & Taylor, 1998). Research delineates various protective factors for at-risk children. One such protective factor is supportive, warm parenting practices (Myers & Taylor, 1998). Thus, it is important to determine if increased levels of stress impede supportive parenting practices, specifically stress related to community violence exposure. Historically, counseling psychologists have focused on working with less pathological psychological problems and thus, it is important for counseling psychologist to contribute to psychology’s understanding of factors that impede or promote healthy adjustment. Increasing our understanding of such factors will allow psychologists to decrease clinical pathologies and develop appropriate social, emotional, and educational interventions. By illuminating the process through which community violence effects parents and children, research can improve parenting interventions and early education programs. Moreover, highlighting the possible effects of community violence on social emotional competence of preschoolers and on their parents’ socialization of emotions may help develop early prevention and intervention methods for families. This study explores the broader ramifications of community violence, through its impact on psychological distress and parental socialization of emotions. By assessing the direct impact of community violence on psychological distress coupled with its impact on parental socialization of emotions and children’s social emotional competence, this study seeks to illustrate the far-reaching influence of community violence on parents and children. It is thought

10 that exposure to community violence negatively influences a child’s adjustment through its negative impact on a parent’s ability to parent effectively. This study seeks to illuminate the need to develop parenting interventions for urban area parents that addresses parenting in the wake of community violence. It also seeks to illuminate the need for earlier interventions for children exposed to community violence because of its immediate impact on parents that in turn fosters children’s early social, emotional, and behavioral problems. Research Questions 1.How does parental socialization of emotions influence children’s social emotional competence? 2.How does community violence affect parents’ socialization of emotions,psychological distress, satisfaction with life, and parents’ and teachers’ report of children’s social emotional competence? Research Hypotheses 1.There will be a significant relationship between socialization as measured by Self Expressiveness in the Family Context (SEFQ) and SEC and Behavioral problems as measured by the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA) and Social Competence and Behavior Evaluation (SCBE-30). 2.There will be a significant relationship between mental health variables as measured by Short PTSD Rating Interview (SPRINT) and Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and socialization practices as measured by SEFQ. 3.There will be a significant relationship between mental health variables as measured by SPRINT and CES-D and parents’ and teachers’ report of social emotional competence as measured by DECA and SCBE-30.

11 4.Parents that report higher levels of community violence exposure and fear of community violence as measured by the Victimization and Fear of Crime scales will also report higher levels of parenting stress as measured by Parenting Stress Index Short Form (PSI-SF). 5.Parents that report higher levels of community violence exposure and fear of community violence as measured by the Victimization and Fear of Crime scales will also report higher levels of psychological distress as measured by the SPRINT, CES-D, and PSI-SF. 6.Parents that report higher levels of community violence exposure and fear of community violence as measured by the Victimization and Fear of Crime scales will also report lower levels of positive socialization and higher levels of negative socialization as measured by the SEFQ. 7.There will be a significant relationship between parents’ community violence exposure as measured by the Victimization and Fear of Crime scales and children’s reported social emotional competence as measured by the DECA and SCBE-30. 8.There will be a significant difference between parents’ report and teachers’ report of preschoolers’ social emotional competence as measured by the DECA and SCBE-30. 9.There will be a significant difference between parents’ report of socialization practices as measured by the SEFQ and parent and teachers’ report of preschoolers social emotional competence as measured by the DECA and SCBE-30. 10.Children’s age, gender, fear of community violence (fear of crime scale), overall experience of community (Victimization scale), socialization (SEFQ), psychological distress (SPRINT, CES-D, and PSI-SF), and satisfaction with life (CES-D) will significantly predict parents’ report of children’s social emotional competence (DECA & SCBE-30).

12 11.Children’s age, gender, fear of community violence (fear of crime scale), overall experience of community (Victimization scale), socialization (SEFQ), psychological distress (SPRINT, CES-D, and PSI-SF), and satisfaction with life (CES-D) will significantly predict parents’ report of children’s behavioral problems (DECA & SCBE-30). Assumptions This section describes the assumptions that contribute to the study’s scope and purpose. The study assumes that a number of intrapersonal variables determine parenting behaviors. Belsky (1984) asserted that parenting behaviors are directly related to a parent’s developmental history. Thus, this study assumes that the parent’s developmental history directly relates to the parent’s displayed parenting behaviors. Assuming the impact of developmental history, this study also asserts that sources of stress and support also influence parenting behavior. Social supports and stress can influence parenting behaviors directly and/or indirectly (Belsky, 1984). Therefore, this study asserts that parenting behaviors are determined by both intrapersonal variables and environmental variables. Another major assumption of this study is that parenting is influential on children’s development. The parent-child relationship is a fundamental relationship for the growth and maturation of the child. Bronfenbrenner (1979) indicated that the primary developmental context is one where the child is able to engage in progressively more difficult tasks under the guidance of persons who are more knowledgeable than the child and who the child has developed a positive emotional relationship. For the purpose of this study, this primary context exists in the parent-child relationship.

13 Delimitations Delimitations are specific limits that the researcher chooses to limit in this particular research project. This study chooses to limit the sample population. While community violence is a national problem, developing a national sample is beyond the scope of this study. Because this study includes Head Start programs that require approval from parent and governance boards, it would be too timely to develop a national sample. This study seeks to explore the impact of community violence; thus, it further limits its proposed sample to communities where high rates of community violence exist. In that regard, this study will assess only a subpopulation of D.C. that reside in areas stricken with high levels of community violence both in the 80’s and currently. This study also chooses to limit the type of trauma experienced by people in urban communities. Research has defined traumatic events as broad as any microaggression that can negatively affect a person (Miller, 2007). Such a definition can include acts of discrimination, physical abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and/or warfare. While all of these are relevant variables that may also affect a parent’s psychological distress and their parental socialization of emotions, this study will not investigate such variables. Investigating every type of trauma experienced by the parents throughout their lives may pose too great of a psychological harm by bringing to conscious all of their traumatic experiences. Given this study is a student lead research project as opposed to a team research project, the student does not have the expertise or license to provide psychological services if such distress occurs. Therefore, the study chooses to investigate only one type of traumatic experience, community violence. Parents’ community violence exposure will also be limited in terms of the last 6 months. While Ritchers and Martinez (1993) have created a lifetime violence exposure questionnaire that

Full document contains 132 pages
Abstract: This study explored the impact of parents' community violence exposure on their parenting behaviors and overall mental health. It aimed to illustrate the effect of parents' community violence exposure on their children's functioning. A sample of 57 parents with students enrolled in Head Start programs throughout Washington, D.C. completed self-report questionnaires on community violence exposure, fear of community violence, PTSD symptoms, depressions symptoms, parenting stress, socialization practices, and life satisfaction. Parents and teachers also completed questionnaires about children's ability to regulate and understand emotions while controlling their behavior. Researchers describe such abilities as "social emotional competence." The majority of the sample reported they had either witnessed (N=38) or been a victim (N=23) of community violence. Eighteen percent of the sample reported clinically significant levels of depression. However, reports of PTSD were considerably higher; 42% of parents met the diagnostic threshold for PTSD. Parents that reported higher levels of either witnessing and/or being a victim of community violence reported higher levels of overall psychological distress. Additionally, this study found that as parents' reports of being afraid of community violence increased, their psychological distress also increased. A hierarchical regression found that children's age and gender, and parents' overall psychological distress, satisfaction with life, fear of community violence, community violence exposure, and parental socialization of emotions accounted for 35% of the variance within parents' reports of their children's social emotional competence. Overall, this study found that exposure to community violence has a complex relationship with parents' psychological functioning, parental socialization, and children's social emotional competence. Thus, future research should continue to explore the impact of community violence on families while developing early intervention strategies for parents and children.