Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

MA in Clinical Psychology



First Advisor

Elissa J Brown

Second Advisor

William Chaplin


Children and adolescents are exposed to family and community violence at high rates, and poly victimization is common. Further study is needed to assess the unique and additive effects of witnessing or directly experiencing violence in multiple contexts on psychopathology in urban youth of color. Additionally, analyzing the role of protective factors, such as social skills, in moderating the relation between violence exposure and psychopathology may aid in identifying unique and shared pathways by which different forms of interpersonal violence may impact mental health outcomes. This study sought to examine whether social skills (cooperation and assertion) moderated the relation between exposure to family and community violence and internalizing and externalizing symptoms in a sample of 116 youth (ages 5-17) and their caregivers. A community sample was recruited for a study evaluating the effectiveness of a trauma-specific cognitive behavioral therapy for family violence for Black and Latino families. Participants completed self-report and parent-report questionnaires assessing demographic information, history of violence exposure, social skills, and internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed that social skills moderated the effects of violence exposure on psychopathology such that youth with a history of exposure to community violence and high assertion were more likely to endorse higher levels of externalizing symptoms compared with community violence-exposed youth with moderate or low assertion scores or youth with no history of community violence. Additionally, a significant positive association between family violence exposure and internalizing symptoms was found. The implications of the unique and additive effects of family and community exposure on psychopathology in youth, as well as the role of social skills as a protective factor, are discussed.