We have found that exposure to violence can lead to violent behavior, increased stress, and other problem behaviors, but parental support, positive role models, and thinking about the future help mitigate these effects. We have also found that youth’s violent behavior and attitudes are strongly related to other risk behaviors and poorer health outcomes.

We have learned that:

  • Continued exposure to perceived racial discrimination and stress increases the risk for violent behaviors during young adulthood
  • Head injuries in youth are associated with increased violent behavior in later life
  • Future expectations (hopes and goals for the future) helps protect against violent behavior and attitudes
  • Parental support and positive role models can help protect against the risks associated with exposure to violence

An image of the violence findings infographic

Related publications


Eisman, A. B., Lee, D. B., Hsieh, H.-F., Stoddard, S. A., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2018). More Than Just Keeping Busy: The Protective Effects of Organized Activity Participation on Violence and Substance Use Among Urban Youth. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 47(10), 2231–2242.
Heinze, J. E., Cook, S. H., Wood, E. P., Dumadag, A. C., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2018). Friendship Attachment Style Moderates the Effect of Adolescent Exposure to Violence on Emerging Adult Depression and Anxiety Trajectories. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 47(1), 177–193.
Schmidt, C. J., Zimmerman, M. A., & Stoddard, S. A. (2018). A Longitudinal Analysis of the Indirect Effect of Violence Exposure on Future Orientation Through Perceived Stress and the Buffering Effect of Family Participation. American Journal of Community Psychology, 62(1–2), 62–74.
Varela, J., Zimmerman, M., Ryan, A., Stoddard, S., & Heinze, J. (2018). School Attachment and Violent Attitudes Preventing Future Violent Behavior Among Youth. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 088626051880031.


Heinze, J. E., Stoddard, S. A., Aiyer, S. M., Eisman, A. B., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2017). Exposure to violence during adolescence as a predictor of perceived stress trajectories in emerging adulthood. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 49, 31–38.
Hsieh, H.-F., Heinze, J. E., Lang, I., Mistry, R., Buu, A., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2017). Violence Victimization, Social Support, and Papanicolaou Smear Outcomes: A Longitudinal Study from Adolescence to Young Adulthood. Journal of Women’s Health (2002).


Assari, S., Moghani Lankarani, M., Caldwell, C. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2016). Fear of Neighborhood Violence During Adolescence Predicts Development of Obesity a Decade Later: Gender Differences Among African Americans. Archives of Trauma Research, 5(2), e31475.


Assari, S., Caldwell, C. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2015). Perceived Neighborhood Safety During Adolescence Predicts Subsequent Deterioration of Subjective Health Two Decades Later; Gender Differences in a Racially-Diverse Sample. International Journal of Preventive Medicine, 6(1), 117.
Assari, S., Smith, J. R., Caldwell, C. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2015). Gender Differences in Longitudinal Links between Neighborhood Fear, Parental Support, and Depression among African American Emerging Adults. Societies, 5(1), 151–170.
Eisman, A. B., Stoddard, S. A., Heinze, J., Caldwell, C. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2015). Depressive symptoms, social support, and violence exposure among urban youth: A longitudinal study of resilience. Developmental Psychology, 51(9), 1307–1316.
Stoddard, S. A., Heinze, J. E., Choe, D. E., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2015). Predicting violent behavior: The role of violence exposure and future educational aspirations during adolescence. Journal of Adolescence, 44, 191–203.


Aiyer, S. M., Heinze, J. E., Miller, A. L., Stoddard, S. A., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2014). Exposure to Violence Predicting Cortisol Response During Adolescence and Early Adulthood: Understanding Moderating Factors. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 43(7), 1066–1079.
Assari, S., Caldwell, C. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2014). Sex differences in the association between testosterone and violent behaviors. Trauma Monthly, 19(3), e18040.
Choe, D. E., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2014). Transactional Process of African American adolescents’ family conflict and violent behavior. Journal of Research on Adolescence: The Official Journal of the Society for Research on Adolescence, 24(4), 591–597.


Estrada-Martinez, L. M., Caldwell, C. H., Bauermeister, J. A., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2012). Stressors in multiple life-domains and the risk for externalizing and internalizing behaviors among african americans during emerging adulthood. J Youth Adolesc, 41(12), 1600–1612.
Stoddard, S. A., Zimmerman, M. A., & Bauermeister, J. A. (2012). A Longitudinal Analysis of Cumulative Risks, Cumulative Promotive Factors, and Adolescent Violent Behavior. J Res Adolesc, 22(3), 542–555.


Butler-Barnes, S. T., Chavous, T. M., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2011). Exposure to Violence and Achievement Motivation Beliefs: Moderating Roles of Cultural-Ecological Factors. Race and Social Problems, 3(2), 17.
Hurd, N., Zimmerman, M. A., & Reischl, T. M. (2011). Role Model Behavior and Youth Violence: A Study of Positive and Negative Effects. Journal of Early Adolescence, 31(2), 323–354.
Stoddard, S. A., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2011). Association of interpersonal violence with self-reported history of head injury. Pediatrics, 127(6), 1074–1079.
Stoddard, S. A., Zimmerman, M. A., & Bauermeister, J. A. (2011). Thinking about the future as a way to succeed in the present: a longitudinal study of future orientation and violent behaviors among African American youth. Am J Community Psychol, 48(3–4), 238–246.


Elkington, K. S., Bauermeister, J. A., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2010). Psychological distress, substance use, and HIV/STI risk behaviors among youth. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39(5), 514–527.
Hurd, N., & Zimmerman, M. (2010). Natural mentors, mental health, and risk behaviors: A longitudinal analysis of African American adolescents transitioning into adulthood. American Journal of Community Psychology, 46(1–2), 36–48.


Xue, Y., Zimmerman, M. A., & Cunningham, R. (2009). Relationship between alcohol use and violent behavior among urban African American youths from adolescence to emerging adulthood: a longitudinal study. American Journal of Public Health, 99(11), 2041–2048.


Caldwell, C. H., Kohn-Wood, L. P., Schmeelk-Cone, K. H., Chavous, T. M., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2004). Racial discrimination and racial identity as risk or protective factors for violent behaviors in African American young adults. American Journal of Community Psychology, 33(1–2), 91–105.


Caldwell, C. H., Chavous, T. M., Barnett, T. E., Kohn-Wood, L. P., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2003). Social determinants of experiences with violence among adolescents: Unpacking the role of race in violence. Phylon, 50, 87–113.