First Advisor

Daniel Coleman

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Social Work and Social Research


Social Work




Teenagers -- Alcohol use, Children and violence, Behavior disorders in adolescence



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 173 p.) : ill.


Adolescent Alcohol Use (AAU) is widespread and potentially harmful to the health of youth. Substantial research and theoretical development suggest that both violence exposure and internalizing and externalizing problems of adolescents are associated with AAU. The primary purpose of this study was to examine the roles of internalizing and externalizing problems in adolescents to determine if the two types of symptoms are differential mediators of the link between violence exposure and AAU for females and males. Using Developmental Systems Theory as a framework, three primary hypotheses were examined: 1) Increased violence exposure at home and in the community are associated with increased AAU in both females and in males; 2) Internalizing problems mediate the relationship between home/community violence exposure and AAU for females; and 3) Externalizing problems mediate the relationship between home/community violence exposure and AAU for males. The secondary dataset that was utilized to test the hypotheses is a product of the 1995 National Survey of Adolescents in the United States. It includes a national probability sample of 3,161 adolescents and a probability oversample of 862 adolescents residing in urban areas for a total of 4,023 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17. The data were collected by telephone interviews with the adolescents. The findings indicated that, for the most part, witnessing and experiencing physical and sexual violence across home and community contexts were associated with increased levels of AAU for both females and males. Internalizing problems mediated the relationship between sexual abuse and AAU for both females and males. Externalizing problems did not mediate the relationship between violence exposure and AAU for males or females. The findings suggest that internalizing and externalizing problems may play similar roles in females and males. The findings also indicated that home violence exposure accounts for unique variance in AAU beyond community violence exposure, but that community and home violence exposure do not interact to contribute to the highest level of AAU. Both number of different types of sexual victimization and number of different types of physical victimization at home were related to AAU. Implications for social work are discussed. The primary implication for Development Systems Theory is that differential pathways for females and males from environmental stress, in particular violence exposure, to increases in AAU may not be needed. Social work programs aimed at preventing and intervening in AAU should include components that address not only the use itself, but also the level of violence the adolescent has been exposed to, as well as any internalizing problems the adolescent may be experiencing. Future research should continue to examine how risk factors operate to influence AAU.


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Portland State University. Social Work and Social Research Ph. D. Program

Persistent Identifier