Exposure to violence across multiple contexts and health risk behaviours in South African adolescents: the moderating role of emotion dysregulation



Objective: The association between violence exposure and health risk behaviours in South African adolescents, and the moderating role of emotion dysregulation were investigated. Design: A multiethnic sample of adolescents (N¼925: boy: 47.3%, girl: 52.7%, M age ¼ 16 years, SD¼1.54) completed a survey. Main outcome measures: Violence exposure across different contexts (home-, school-, community-, political victimisation), emotion dysregulation (inability to regulate sadness and anger) and a composite measure of health risk behaviours (smoking, substance use, risky sexual behaviour) were examined. Results: Boys reported more risk behaviours than girls, t (844) ¼ 5.25, p0.001. Direct community victimisation was a predictor for boys’ risk behaviours, B¼0.22, p0.001. Indirect school victimisation and direct community victimisation were predictors for girls’ risk behaviours, B’s ¼ 0.19, p’s 0.01. Girls reported higher emotion dysregulation than boys, t (748) ¼ _2.95, p0.01. Only for girls, emotion dysregulation moderated the associations of indirect home victimisation, B¼16, p0.01, and direct community victimisation, B¼15, p0.05, with risk behaviours. Conclusion: Interventions may target emotion regulation skills, particularly for girls, to enhance resilience to the negative effects of violence on behaviours.
Date made available5 Jan 2021

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