How does violence exposure affect the psychological health and parenting of young African-American mothers?

Stephanie J. Mitchell, Amy Lewin, Ivor B. Horn, Dawn Valentine, Kathy Sanders-Phillips, Jill G Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Scopus citations


Urban, minority, adolescent mothers are particularly vulnerable to violence exposure, which may increase their children's developmental risk through maternal depression and negative parenting. The current study tests a conceptual model of the effects of community and contextual violence exposure on the mental health and parenting of young, African-American mothers living in Washington, DC. A path analysis revealed significant direct effects of witnessed and experienced violence on mothers' depressive symptoms and general aggression. Experiences of discrimination were also associated with increased depressive symptoms. Moreover, there were significant indirect effects of mothers' violence exposure on disciplinary practices through depression and aggression. These findings highlight the range of violence young African-American mothers are exposed to and how these experiences affect their mental health, particularly depressive symptoms, and thus disciplinary practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)526-533
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes



  • Adolescent parenting
  • African-American
  • Aggression
  • Community violence
  • Depression
  • Discipline
  • Ethnic discrimination
  • Mothers
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)

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