Family plays a critical role for adolescent socialization. Parents in particular can promote either adolescent prosocial or problem behaviors. The purpose of the present study is two-fold. The first is to investigate the main and interaction effects of family communication (i.e., verbal hostility and expressiveness) on adolescent risk behaviors (i.e., dating violence and externalizing behaviors). The second is to test whether family communication is indirectly associated with adolescent risk behaviors through parent-adolescent risk communication and adolescent attitudes toward violence. Nicaraguan 7th and 8th graders were recruited to participate in paper-pencil surveys (N = 1,651). Path analysis identified significant main effects of verbal hostility for adolescent dating violence and externalizing behaviors. Although expressiveness did not show a significant main effect, interaction effects with verbal hostility were identified for both dating violence and externalizing behaviors. When verbal hostility was low, expressiveness was negatively related to adolescent dating violence and externalizing behaviors whereas when verbal hostility was high, expressiveness was positively associated with these behaviors. Significant indirect effects were detected only via adolescent attitudes toward violence. Prevention efforts that promote positive family environments and especially that eliminate verbal hostility are suggested.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)