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Political Violence and Child Adjustment: Longitudinal Tests of Sectarian Antisocial Behavior, Family Conflict, and Insecurity as Explanatory Pathways


  • We would like to thank the many families in Northern Ireland who have participated in the project. We would also like to express our appreciation to project staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students at the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Ulster. This research was support by NICHD Grant 046933-05 to the first author.

  • Alice Schermerhorn is now at the Psychology Department at Indiana University

concerning this article should be addressed to E. Mark Cummings, Department of Psychology, 204 Brownson Hall, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Electronic mail may be sent to


Understanding the impact of political violence on child maladjustment is a matter of international concern. Recent research has advanced a social ecological explanation for relations between political violence and child adjustment. However, conclusions are qualified by the lack of longitudinal tests. Toward examining pathways longitudinally, mothers and their adolescents (= 12.33, SD = 1.78, at Time 1) from 2-parent families in Catholic and Protestant working class neighborhoods in Belfast, Northern Ireland, completed measures assessing multiple levels of a social ecological model. Utilizing autoregressive controls, a 3-wave longitudinal model test (T1, = 299; T2, = 248; T3, = 197) supported a specific pathway linking sectarian community violence, family conflict, children’s insecurity about family relationships, and adjustment problems.

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