Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


Date of this Version

Fall 11-16-2012

Document Type



Li, X. (2012). Family environment and school environment as predictors for physical aggression in low-income children, MS thesis, University of Nebraska.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Child, Youth, & Family Studies, Under the Supervision of Professor Soo-Young Hong. Lincoln, Nebraska: November, 2012

Copyright (c) 2012 Xiaoyu Li


The purpose of the current study was to examine the unique and collective contributions of child’s own characteristics, their family environment and school environment to the development of child physical aggression at Grade 5. This study was based on Bronfenbrenner’s Process-Person-Context-Time model (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2006). Children’s gender and their aggression at age 3 were included as person characteristics. Family environment (primary caregiver’s ethnicity, maternal education, home warmth, physical punishment, exposure to violence, family conflict, and parent-child dysfunctional interaction) and early child care experience measured by whether the child was in child care at both age 3 and age 4 were included in the microsystem of the bioecological model. Percentage of free or reduced lunch at school level was conceptualized as the exosystem factor in the bioecological model. The current study used the data from the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project (EHSREP). Participants of this study were 690 children (340 girls), followed longitudinally from age 3 to Grade 5, representing multiple races and ethnicities (White, 44.3%, Black, 24.6%, Hispanic 25.9%, other races 5.1%). Results suggested that early aggression at age 3 predicted later aggression at Grade 5. Home warmth was a marginally significant protective factor for children’s aggression, whereas physical punishment, violence exposure, family conflict and parent-child dysfunctional interaction were risk factors for children’s aggression. Child’s experience in formal child care significantly predicted his/her higher aggression at Grade 5 and this effect was maintained with all predictors included in the hierarchical regression model. Results also indicated that school poverty at Grade 5 was not a significant predictor of children’s aggression at Grade 5. The moderation of home warmth for the relations between physical punishment and child’s aggression was not significant. Limitations of the current study, directions for future research, and implications for intervention are also discussed.

Adviser: Soo-Young Hong