Statement of purpose Adult connexion has demonstrated a protective effect on multiple adolescent health outcomes. We examine how the nature of relationships with adults impacts violence exposure.
Methods/approach 283 adolescent males in Philadelphia, ages 10–24, were enrolled via household random-digit dial and interviewed in person. Relationships with key family members were divided into supportive, unsupportive, and mixed, as defined by youth. Reported violence involvement and violence witnessing scores were created using 17 self-reported items, and dichotomized using natural breakpoints. Logistic regressions examined how relationships with adult family members corresponded to violence involvement and witnessing violence.
Results Median participant age was 18 and 98% were African American. 68% of youth identified at least one supportive adult family member including mothers (60%), fathers (27%), and maternal grandmothers (15%). 33% of youth reported high violence involvement, 30% reported high violence witnessing, and 17% reported both. Youth who reported at least one supportive adult had significantly decreased odds of violence involvement (OR = 0.38; 95% CI = 0.23–0.65) and violence witnessing (OR = 0.49; 95% CI = 0.29–0.83). Compared to youth with unsupportive maternal relationships, those with supportive relationships had decreased odds of violence involvement (OR = 0.17; 95% CI = 0.05–0.57). Having a supportive paternal relationship trended towards decreased odds of violence involvement (OR = 0.47, 95% CI = 0.10–2.31), but was relatively uncommon. Findings adjusted for age were consistent.
Conclusions Supportive family connexion is strongly associated with decreased odds of violence exposure and violence witnessing. Youth who characterised supportive maternal relationships had significantly less violence involvement; those who characterised supportive paternal relationships also trended towards less violence involvement.
Significance and contributions Next studies should fully evaluate the impact of supportive fathers, investigate causal mechanisms underlying the observed relationships, and identify opportunities to bolster family connexion that may reduce adolescent violence exposure.
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