This dissertation is based on Sociocultural Theory, Social Learning Theory and Trauma Theory, as well as a new theoretical framework (Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome) which takes into account multigenerational trauma. Five research questions involving independent variables believed to predict violent behavior in African American male youth were investigated. The first three questions addressed stressors experienced by African Americans: violence witnessing, violence victimization, and daily urban hassles. The fourth and fifth questions concerned the sociocultural characteristics of racial socialization and prosocial attitudes toward respect. Participants were 200 African American male youth residing in inner Northeast Portland, Oregon who were recruited from four organizations: The Portland House of Umoja residential facility, McLaren Youth Correctional Facility, Donald E. Long Youth Correctional Facility and the Bridge Builders Gentlemen’s Rites of Passage Program. The study included two groups of African American male youth ages 14 to 18, 100 of whom were incarcerated and 100 of whom were non-incarcerated.
All five independent variables significantly predicted use of violence in separate regression equations. Multiple regression analyses revealed that the strongest predictor of the use of violence was victimization extent which alone accounted for 43.3% of the total variance in use of violence. In the second step of the regression, witnessing was added to the equation which increased the explained variance to 49.2%. The third and final step added prosocial attitudes toward respect to the regression accounting for a total of 51.2% of the variance of the extent of the use of violence. Variables excluded from the final regression equation were racial socialization and urban hassles which failed to significantly increase the prediction of the criterion variable of extent of use of violence. The data provide evidence that trauma characteristics of absent mothers, witnessing violence, experiencing violence, and feeling disrespected by others are key factors that can provide practitioners a better lens to use in assessment and treatment planning than the current response of punishment and incarceration for displays of violent behavior.