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Parents as Moderators of the Impact of School Norms and Peer Influences on Aggression in Middle School Students


  • Michael Schoeny is now at the University of Chicago. This study was funded by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC Cooperative Agreement 1U49CE001296. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We thank Jeffrey Hall for his valuable input during the planning of the study and the Multisite Violence Prevention Project corporate author group that includes the following individuals listed by sites with their current affiliation noted in parentheses: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA: Thomas R. Simon, Robin M. Ikeda, Emilie Smith (Penn State University), Le’Roy E. Reese (Morehouse School of Medicine); Duke University, Durham, NC: David L. Rabiner, Shari Miller (Research Triangle Institute), Donna-Marie Winn (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Kenneth A. Dodge, Steven R. Asher (Duke University); University of Georgia, Athens, GA: Arthur M. Horne, Pamela Orpinas, Roy Martin, William H. Quinn (Clemson University); University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL: Patrick H. Tolan (University of Virginia), Deborah Gorman-Smith (University of Chicago), David B. Henry, Franklin N. Gay (University of Chicago), Michael Schoeny (University of Chicago); Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA: Albert D. Farrell, Aleta L. Meyer (National Institute on Drug Abuse); Terri N. Sullivan, Kevin W. Allison.

concerning this article should be addressed to Albert D. Farrell, Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, P.O. Box 842018, Richmond, VA 23284-2018. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study examined parenting variables as protective factors to reduce the influence of school and peer risk factors on adolescents’ aggression. Five waves of data spanning 3 years were collected from 5,581 students at 37 schools who began the 6th grade in 2001 or 2002. Class-level and perceived school norms supporting aggression, delinquent peer associations, parental support for fighting and support for nonviolence, and parental involvement were each associated with physical aggression across all waves. Each parenting variable moderated 1 or more risk factors, with the magnitude of many effects varying by gender and decreasing over time. Implications for the role parents may play in reducing the impact of school and peer risk factors for aggression are discussed.