Date of Award

Summer 8-5-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Dr. Mark Reed

Second Advisor

Dr. Timothy Brezina

Third Advisor

Dr. Volkan Topalli


To explain delinquency, General Strain Theory (GST) focuses on negative relationships with others. As one type of victimization, exposure to violence is significantly related to juvenile crime and substance abuse. In addition, victimized adolescents commonly experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, little research has investigated the mediating role of PTSD in the association between violent victimization and juvenile delinquency.

Using data from the National Survey of Adolescents (1995), the present study examines the direct effects of sexual assault, physical assault, and witnessing violence on inner- (alcohol and illicit drug use) and outer-directed behaviors (property and violent crime). This study also examines the mediating role of PTSD, based on an overall scale of PTSD as well as the individual components of PTSD (re-experiencing, avoidance/numbing, and hyperarousal). Logistic regression analyses and the Sobel test were used to examine the hypotheses.

Findings in the study provide support for the proposition of GST that violent victimization increases the risk of juvenile crime and substance use. Findings also indicate that exposure to violence results in a higher probability of exhibiting PTSD symptoms. Finally, PTSD clusters partially mediate the link between violent victimization and outer-directed responses. However, the expected mediating effect between violent victimization and inner-directed responses was not found. Theoretical implications and limitations are discussed.