Violence exposure mediates the relation between callous-unemotional traits and offending patterns in adolescents.J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2012 Nov; 40(8):1237-47.JA
The link between callous-unemotional (CU) traits in youth and delinquent, aggressive and violent behavior is well-replicated in the literature. However, the mediating effects of violence exposure on this relationship are unclear. The current study addresses this important gap in the literature with a sample of 88 detained, primarily ethnic minority adolescent boys (M age = 15.57; SD = 1.28). Results indicate that exposure to violence fully mediated the relationship between CU traits and violent delinquency, and this pattern of mediation was accounted for by exposure to witnessed violence, but not direct violent victimization. Secondly, exposure to violence, both direct and witnessed forms, also mediated the relationship between CU traits and drug delinquency. These findings suggest that (a) the well-established link between CU traits and violence may be attributed to high rates of witnessed violence among this subpopulation, and (b) specific types of violence exposure may be important for predicting the offending patterns of youth high on CU traits. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.