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Keywords:

  • African-American;
  • behaviour problems;
  • community violence

ABSTRACT

This study examined the relations among community violence exposure, inter-partner conflict and informal social support and the behaviour problems of pre-schoolers, and explored how mothers' parenting skills and children's social skills may mediate the child outcomes associated with such exposure. Participants were 185 African-American mothers and female caregivers of Head Start children who completed study measures in a structured interview. Path analyses revealed that greater inter-partner conflict was associated with more internalizing and externalizing child behaviour problems. Positive parenting was associated with fewer internalizing and externalizing behaviours. Higher levels of child social skills were associated with fewer internalizing and externalizing behaviour problems. Child social skills fully mediated the relationship between community violence and externalizing behaviours as well as between informal support and externalizing behaviours. Social skills partially mediated the relationships between positive parenting and externalizing behaviours. No mediating effect was found on the relationships between inter-partner conflict and child behaviour problems. Implications of the findings for intervention and future research are discussed.