Neighborhood Concentrated Disadvantage and Dating Violence among Urban Adolescents: The Mediating Role of Neighborhood Social Processes

Rachel C. Garthe, Deborah Gorman-Smith, Joshua Gregory, Michael E. Schoeny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The link between relationship violence and aspects of neighborhood concentrated disadvantage (e.g., percent of unemployed adults, percent of families below poverty level), has been established. However, the literature examining neighborhood social processes, including informal social control and social cohesion, in relation to adolescent dating violence has shown mixed results with a limited theoretical foundation and methodology. Using a social disorganization theoretical framework, this study examined the mediating role of these neighborhood social processes in the relation between concentrated disadvantage and adolescent dating violence within an urban context. Participants included 605 adult residents in 30 census tracts and 203 adolescents from neighborhoods on the West and South sides of Chicago. Neighborhood-level concentrated disadvantage was measured via Census data, adult residents reported on neighborhood social processes, and youth reported on dating violence. Informal social control was negatively associated with dating violence, and social cohesion was positively associated with dating violence. A multilevel mediation model showed that concentrated disadvantage was related to higher levels of dating violence via lower levels of informal social control. These results extend social disorganization theory to dating violence within an urban context, while also highlighting the important role of neighborhood processes on relationship violence. Implications for research and intervention programming are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-320
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of community psychology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Concentrated disadvantage
  • Dating violence
  • Informal social control
  • Multilevel mediation
  • Neighborhood
  • Social cohesion
  • Social disorganization theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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