Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Wendy Kliewer


A multidimensional model of associations between domestic violence exposure and risk of violence and prosocial behavior was tested in a sample of Colombian adolescents, with attention to impulsivity and substance use problems as mediators of these associations. A representative sample of 1,152 school youths and a convenience group of 148 juvenile offenders aged 11-19 years was recruited from Medellin, the second largest city in this South American country. Assessment was carried out in classrooms in the school sample and in correctional institutions for juvenile offenders. Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was utilized to test the conceptually derived models. Similarly, multisample analyses and nested model comparisons were used to explore mediator effects. Results showed strong associations between domestic violence exposure and putative mediators and outcomes, especially among offenders. Though impulsivity and substance use problems mediated the relation between family violence (i.e., exposure to interparental violence) and adolescent maltreatment (i.e., harsh parenting) and violent and prosocial behavior in both groups, impulsivity exerted a greater effect on adjustment among juvenile offenders than their counterparts. Juveniles who reported less ability to inhibit their impulsive responses engaged in more problems related to illicit substance use, violent acts (e.g., carrying weapons at school and in the streets), and less prosocial activities with their peers. Nonetheless, the best model fit indexes were obtained when paths from impulsivity to substance use problems and violent behavior were added to model comparisons. Results are discussed within the framework of Information-Processing theory for understanding pathways to violent and prosocial behavior.


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