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

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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 multi-ethnic sample of adolescents (N = 925: boy: 47.3%, girl: 52.7%, M age = 16 years, SD = 1.54) 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) = 5.25, p < 0.001. Direct community victimisation was a predictor for boys' risk behaviours, B = 0.22, p < 0.001. Indirect school victimisation and direct community victimisation were predictors for girls' risk behaviours, B's = 0.19, p's < 0.01. Girls reported higher emotion dysregulation than boys, t (748) = -2.95, p < 0.01. Only for girls, emotion dysregulation moderated the associations of indirect home victimisation, B = 16, p < 0.01, and direct community victimisation, B = 15, p < 0.05, with risk behaviours. Conclusion: Interventions may target emotion regulation skills, particularly for girls, to enhance resilience to the negative effects of violence on behaviours.

    Research areas

  • ABUSE, ADJUSTMENT, ALCOHOL-USE, COMMUNITY VIOLENCE, GENDER-DIFFERENCES, HIV RISK, SELF-CONTROL, SUBSTANCE USE, VICTIMIZATION, Violence exposure, YOUTH, adolescents, emotion dysregulation, health risk behaviours, victimisation
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalPsychology & Health
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jul 2019