Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Albert Farrell

Second Advisor

Scott Vrana

Third Advisor

Terri Sullivan

Fourth Advisor

Wendy Kliewer

Fifth Advisor

Shelby McDonald


There is substantial support for the link between peer factors and adolescents’ aggression. Less is known about protective factors that may mitigate the relation between peer factors and aggression. Parental influences, such as parental messaging supporting fighting, have been directly associated with aggression. What remains unclear is the extent to which parental messages supporting fighting and nonviolence might serve as protective factors in relations between negative peer interactions and aggressive behavior. The purpose of this study was to investigate longitudinal effects of peerson adolescents’ physical aggression and to examine the extent to which parental messages supporting fighting and nonviolence moderated these effects. The study comes from analyses of data from a study evaluating the effects of a school-based violence prevention program. Participants were a predominantly African-American sample of 2,156 sixth, seventh, and eighth graders from three public middle schools. Results indicated that physical peer victimization, peer pressure for fighting, and friends’ support for fighting predicted changes in self-reported physical aggression, after controlling for all other peer variables. Peer pressure for fighting uniquely predicted changes in teacher-reported physical aggression. Minimal support was found for the moderating roles of parental messages supporting fighting and nonviolence. Contrary to hypotheses, the relation between friends’ delinquent behavior and teacher-report of physical aggression was moderated by parental messages such that the relation was more evident for adolescents who received high levels of parental messages supporting nonviolence. These findings suggest that interventions may need to target multiple peer factors in order to reduce adolescents’ physical aggression.


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