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Keywords:

  • violence exposure;
  • externalizing problems;
  • internalizing problems;
  • early adolescence

This study examined the relationship between violence exposure in three different contexts (home, school, and community) and internalizing and externalizing outcomes in early adolescents. We modeled both context-specific and cumulative effects of exposure to violence. After controlling for a number of risk factors associated with violence exposure, violent incidents encountered at school and at home were consistently related to multiple outcomes. Violence exposure in the community was related only to aggressive fantasies but not to other externalizing or internalizing problems. High levels of violence exposure in the community attenuated the relationship between home violence and internalizing symptoms and school violence and externalizing problems. Cumulative exposure to violence was related to all aspects of adjustment, but the number of contexts in which violence occurred did not predict beyond the effects of cumulative exposure. Finally, high levels of cumulative violence exposure were associated with a plateau or decrease in emotional distress.