Violence Exposure, Aggressive Cognitions & Externalizing Behaviors among Colombian Youth: The Moderating Role of Community Belongingness


violent behavior, resiliency, health, risk behavior


Limited work has focused on understanding mechanisms through which violence negatively impacts youth outcomes. The present study investigates how three different facets of violence exposure (witnessing violence, victimization and armed conflict) relate to Colombian youth externalizing behaviors via the indirect influence of aggressive cognitions and the moderating role of community belongingness. Data were from a sample of students (N=3,483) in public high schools in Colombia. Findings indicated all three facets of violence were positively associated with youth externalizing behaviors. Armed conflict and witnessing community violence positively predicted externalizing behaviors via the indirect effect of aggressive cognitions. Community belongingness moderated the association between armed conflict and witnessing on aggressive cognitions. Results highlight the need for understanding risk and protective factors from a contextual lens. The role of community belongingness as a resilience factor is discussed, as such it has implications for intervention programs targeting youth at greater risk to violence exposure.

Original Publication Citation

Melendez Guevara, A.M., Gaias, L.M., Fraser, A.M., & Lindstrom Johnson, S. (in press) Violence exposure, aggressive cognitions andviolence high-risk behaviors among Colombianyouth: The moderating role of community belongingness. Journal of Youth and Society. IF 2.23.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Youth and Society




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor