Socialization of Coping With Community Violence: Influences of Caregiver Coaching, Modeling, and Family Context


  • We thank Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) for providing funds to conduct this study. Additionally, funds for coding the videotaped caregiver–child interaction were made possible by a center grant (R49/CCR318597-01) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The research and interpretations reported are the sole responsibility of the authors and are not necessarily endorsed by CDC or represent the views, opinions, or policies of the CDC or their staff. We want to particularly thank the families who shared their lives with us during this project. We extend our appreciation to Drs. Rosalie Corona and Karen Rudolph who provided feedback on an earlier draft of the paper.

concerning this article should be addressed to Wendy Kliewer, Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, PO Box 842018, Richmond, VA 23284-2018. Electronic mail may be sent to


A socialization model of coping with community violence was tested in 101 African American adolescents (55% male, ages 9–13) and their maternal caregivers living in high-violence areas of a mid-sized, southeastern city. Participants completed interviews assessing caregiver coping, family context, and child adjustment. Caregiver–child dyads also discussed a film clip depicting community violence. Parental coaching (caregivers' strategies suggesting how to cope) and child-reported coping were coded from the discussion. Coaching, modeling (caregivers' own coping), and family context each contributed to children's coping with violence. Children's problem-focused coping in response to violence had the strongest associations with changes in their adjustment 6 months later. Implications for interventions with youth and families are discussed.