Leslie Gordon Simons

Leslie Gordon Simons
University of Georgia | UGA · Department of Sociology

Ph.D.

About

100
Publications
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Introduction
Leslie Gordon Simons is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Georgia. Dr. Simons's primary areas of expertise are Family and Criminology. Her program of research focuses on the socio-contextual predictors and consequences of various family processes as well as the mediators and moderators of the relationship between experiences in the family of origin and outcomes for adolescents and emerging adults. Specifically, she examines the intergenerational transmission of problem behaviors and the mechanisms that link parenting to behavioral outcomes such as delinquency, intimate partner violence, and risky sex.

Publications

Publications (100)
Article
The current study extends research on the detrimental health implications of racial discrimination by examining how these implications reverberate across romantic relationships. Using two generations of different-gender romantic couples from the Family and Community Health Study, we examined how racial discrimination experienced by a romantic partn...
Article
Objective Past research has established a link between romantic relationships and depressive symptoms among adults, including those in later life. There is, however, still a lack of evidence regarding whether romantic relationship status or relationship quality, is a better predictor of psychological well-being among middle-aged and older Black adu...
Article
Using a sample of 291 Black women and a longitudinal study, we explore how general strain theory can broaden our understanding of Black women’s alcohol use and intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration. Results demonstrated that racial discrimination, past IPV and sexual victimization, and family member’s victimization heightened depression, whi...
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Given the potential for unintended pregnancy and exposure to sexually transmitted infections, both of which can have long-term deleterious health consequences, the identification of predictors of adolescent risky sexual behavior remains an important line of inquiry. Although prior research has identified a variety of family and individual factors t...
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Little research has examined multiple family risks that may act as precursors to the cycle of violence, or the link between child maltreatment and subsequent intimate partner violence perpetration. Scholarly work that addresses this gap has important implications for early prevention and intervention efforts aimed at reducing family violence in ado...
Article
Although several criminological theories suggest that variations in parenting increase the probability of adult crime, most studies limit focus to the association between parenting and adolescent delinquency. Thus, research exploring the association between parenting and adult crime is rare. The present study used path analyses and prospective, lon...
Article
Though college women report high rates of sexual assault, less is known about how protective and risk factors are uniquely associated with assault among heterosexual and sexual minority women. As such, the current study examined protective factors (i.e., maternal relationship quality and religiosity) and risk factors (i.e., child sexual abuse, pare...
Article
Research has consistently shown that sexual victimization during childhood and adolescence can lead to negative outcomes. However, little research to date has sought to test whether these experiences can shape security of attachment in adulthood, an important concept in attachment theory. Utilizing a longitudinal community sample of African America...
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Some prior studies have found that, for boys, earlier puberty is linked to higher crime and delinquency, while other studies have found that earlier puberty is associated with greater social competence and beneficial psychosocial development. The current study suggests that these seemingly contradictory results actually represent two divergent path...
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A large body of evidence suggests that exposure to childhood adversities increases risk for poor quality physical health in adulthood. Much of this evidence is based on retrospective measures which are believed to be contaminated by the limitations and biases of autobiographical memory. Using longitudinal data on 454 African Americans (61 percent f...
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Considerable research has been devoted to understanding the influence of the family on adolescents’ risky sexual behavior, with primary focus being given to family structure, family transitions, or parenting. Using longitudinal data from the Family and Community Health Study (n = 550, 54% female, age 10.5 years at Wave 1), an African American sampl...
Article
This study addresses important gaps in previous quantitative tests of feminist pathways theory by utilizing longitudinal data from Black men and women and by incorporating racial discrimination and school difficulties. We examine early physical abuse, sexual abuse, and racial discrimination as risks for criminal behavior and psychological distress,...
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Academic success is a strong predictor of adolescent adjustment and subsequent adult social, psychological, and economic well-being. Importantly, research has established a negative relationship between family economic hardship and children’s educational outcomes. Despite being disproportionately represented among the most financially disadvantaged...
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Research documents that African American adolescents and young adults engage in more sexual activity than other racial/ethnic groups, yet little is known about individuals who remain virgins into adulthood. Using data from the Family and Community Health Study of 554 African American young adults, we examined the individual, familial, interpersonal...
Article
The present study extends prior research on the links between social adversity and aging by employing more comprehensive measures of adversity and a new gene expression index of aging. Hierarchical regression and 20 years of data from a sample of 381 black Americans were used to test models regarding the impact of social adversity on speed of aging...
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Objectives Issues around skin tone and colorism have generated much discussion in popular culture outlets and empirical research. This work has focused primarily on the continued significance of skin tone across the life course for women of color. Yet, few studies have examined the implications of skin tone on sexual health. Methods Using data fro...
Article
Hooking-up among college students presents an increased risk of sexual victimization, perhaps due to increased contact with potential perpetrators in a risky context. However, little work has examined factors that might increase the risk of victimization associated with hooking-up, and few studies examine victimization among both men and women. To...
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We followed 402 African American young adults from ages 24 to 29, a period of emerging committed relationships, to examine the association of contextual stress (CS), for example, experiences of financial strain, victimization, and racial discrimination, with inflammation, and to test predictions that greater perceived relationship warmth and suppor...
Article
Although researchers have explored negative individual consequences of racial discrimination, very little work has examined the connection between discrimination and intimate partner violence (IPV) among African American men. Existing work tends to be cross-sectional and does not specify mediators or moderators that might explain this link. Thus, i...
Article
Past research has documented that structural factors produce a skewed dating market in African American communities that advantages men over women. Using data collected from a sample of 495 African American young adults (55.8% women, M age = 22), we tested the idea that African American men can be more selective when choosing dating partners than t...
Chapter
Family violence encompasses a broad range of maltreatment types between family members including physical, sexual, and psychological abuse, as well as neglect and financial exploitation. Such violence includes child maltreatment, sibling abuse, intimate partner violence, and elder mistreatment. Family violence is relatively common and represents a...
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There is strong evidence that chronic, systemic inflammation hastens onset of the diseases of old age that ultimately lead to death. Importantly, several studies suggest that childhood adversity predicts chronic inflammation. Unfortunately, this research has been plagued by retrospective reports of childhood adversity, an absence of controls for ad...
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A substantial amount of research indicates precocious pubertal development is associated with delinquent behavior in girls. However, no clear consensus on theoretical mechanisms underlying this association has been established. Using a prospective panel study of 480 African-American girls, the current study uses latent growth curve analysis to comp...
Article
Several studies have reported a relation between race-related stressors and the poor health of Black Americans. Such findings raise questions regarding the mediating biological mechanisms that might account for this link. The present study investigated elevated systemic inflammation, a factor shown to be a strong predictor of chronic illness and mo...
Article
Several studies have reported a relation between race-related stressors and the poor health of Black Americans. Such findings raise questions regarding the mediating biological mechanisms that might account for this link. The present study investigated elevated systemic inflammation, a factor shown to be a strong predictor of chronic illness and mo...
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Full-text available
During adolescence, one's status among peers is a major concern. Such status is often largely a function of popularity and establishing oneself as "cool." While there are conventional avenues to achieving status among adolescents, engaging in adult-like, or pseudomature, behaviors such as substance use or sexual activity is a frequent occurrence. A...
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Using data from the Family and Community Health Survey, the current study explores developmental pathways from age 11 to 24 of African American males and females. This study describes the number and type of trajectories of offending for male and female African Americans, as much research in the past on trajectories has focused on White and/or male...
Article
Although college students are at high risk for sexual victimization, the majority of research has focused on heterosexual students and often does not differentiate by victimization type. Thus, little is known about prevalence rates and risk factors for sexual victimization among sexual minority college students and whether the interaction between g...
Article
Although dating violence is prevalent among college students, little is known about how both attachment style and participation in risky behaviors contribute to this pattern of violence. To address this literature gap, we examine the role of poor parenting, child abuse, attachment style, and risky sexual and drug use behaviors on dating violence pe...
Article
For many African American youth, the joint influences of economic and racial marginalization render the transition to stable adult roles challenging. We have gained much insight into how these challenges affect future life chances, yet we lack an understanding of what these challenges mean in the context of linked lives. Drawing on a life course fr...
Article
Experiences with parents during childhood may influence long-term health for those growing up in adverse environments, with effects that extend into young adulthood and beyond. Some effects of parenting on later inflammation and depression may be mediated by later romantic partner relationships and effects on stressors in young adulthood, influenci...
Article
Dating violence continues to be pervasive among college students (Stappenbeck & Fromme, 2010). Given the paucity ofresearch investigating the various pathways through which risk factors are linked to dating violence among different college campuses, we use multiple group path analysis to examine the role of child abuse, self-control, entitlement, a...
Article
Background: Though research has examined heavy drinking by housing type, the link between type of college student housing and protective behavioral strategies (PBS) has rarely been examined comparing different college campuses. Objectives: The purpose of this study is to examine the role of housing type, perceptions of peer drinking, and PBS wit...
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Sexual coercion on college campuses has become of major concern in recent decades. In recent years, researchers and policy makers have called for greater attention to this topic in order to reduce the sexual violence on college campuses. Recent research has examined the impact of family-of-origin experiences on the perpetration of sexual coercion....
Article
Background: Though college students have high rates of heavy drinking, few studies have examined the various pathways through which risks affect drinking and whether this varies by institution. We examined whether alcohol expectancy mediates the relationship between social factors (i.e., hooking up, friends drinking, Greek affiliation, entitlement)...
Article
Parental depression is a well-established risk factor for couple conflict and ineffective or hostile parenting (M. C. Lovejoy, P. A. Graczyk, E. O'Hare, & G. Neuman, 2000; L. M. Papp, M. C. Goeke-Morey, & E. M. Cummings, 2007). Although research suggests that caregiver depression may impact parenting indirectly via increased conflict between couple...
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An increasing amount of sociological research is directed at unpacking the social processes behind neighborhood effects on youth behavioral outcomes. The goal of the current study is to build upon these prior efforts and advance research on neighborhood cultural mechanisms and adolescent sexual-partnering behaviors. We formulate and test a series o...
Article
A growing body of research examines how the presence and quality of romantic relationships, from dating to marriage, contribute to health. However, this work oftentimes fails to consider instability in the relationship supports and stressors thought to affect health. This is particularly important during the transition to adulthood when instability...
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The recent U.S. recession has resulted in higher rates of unemployment, underemployment, and child poverty, with African Americans disproportionately represented among the financially disadvantaged. Although past research has established the relationship between family financial hardship and various child adjustment problems, African Americans rema...
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Risky sexual behavior, particularly among adolescents, continues to be a major source of concern. In order to develop effective education and prevention programs, there is a need for research that identifies the antecedents of such behavior. This study investigated the mediators that link parenting experiences during early adolescence to subsequent...
Article
Sexual assault has been recognized as a major public health problem among college students for several decades. In response to the inadequacies of many universities to effectively address this problem, researchers, policy makers, and the public alike have recently called for greater attention to reducing the high rates of sexual violence against co...
Article
A profusion of studies have demonstrated that body size is a major factor in mate selection for both men and women. The particular role played by weight, however, has been subject to some debate, particularly with respect to the types of body sizes deemed most attractive, and scholars have questioned the degree to which body size preferences are co...
Article
Cohabitation has become increasingly widespread over the past decade. Such trends have given rise to debates about the relation between cohabitation and marriage in terms of what cohabitation means for individual relationship trajectories and for the institution of marriage more generally. Using recent data from a sample of almost 800 African Ameri...
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This study focuses on 422 African American families with two caregivers as children transition into adolescence. The family stress model was tested longitudinally using structural equation modeling. Results showed that economic stress was associated with economic pressure and depressive symptoms among caregivers, which in turn was related to caregi...
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Life History Theory (LHT), a branch of evolutionary biology, describes how organisms maximize their reproductive success in response to environmental conditions. This theory suggests that challenging environmental conditions will lead to early pubertal maturation, which in turn predicts heightened risky sexual behavior. Although largely confirmed a...
Article
Social disorganization theory posits that individuals who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods are more likely to engage in antisocial behavior than are those who live in advantaged neighborhoods and that neighborhood disadvantage asserts this effect through its disruptive impact on social ties. Past research on this framework has been limited in tw...
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Given that one of the most powerful predictors of adult crime is the presence of behavior problems in childhood and adolescence, there is a need to further understand factors that determine behavior patterns during this developmental stage. This study focuses on stressful life experiences such as exposure to delinquent peers, racial discrimination,...
Article
The positive youth development model was explored on a sample of 378 rural African American males to determine its usefulness in predicting HIV-related risk behaviors. Confidence in ability to self-regulate and sense of competence to be successful in the future were associated with having caring, involved, vigilant parents. Confident, competent mal...
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Over the past two decades, virginity pledges have proliferated in the US, despite mixed results regarding their effectiveness. Few studies have examined possible mechanisms that may shed light on why pledges work for some individuals but not others. Using a sample of emerging-adults aged 18–24 years old (n = 1,380), we examine the influence of reli...
Article
Intimate partner violence has been recognized as a major problem on college campuses and is a source of concern for researchers, clinicians, policymakers, and the general population. Most research has focused on the intergenerational transmission of violence and identifying the intrapersonal mechanisms that enable violence in the family of origin t...
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Full-text available
It is well known that a high-quality relationship with a romantic partner is related to a variety of positive outcomes associated with health and well-being. Establishing such relationships is an important developmental task for young adults, and past research indicates that there is a link between experiences in the family of origin and the succes...
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Research has documented social and developmental consequences for youth who experience an early pregnancy. Few studies, however, have examined predictors of teenage pregnancy other than participation in risky sexual behavior. The present study tests a social-contextual model predicting pregnancy among youth. Quality of parenting, affiliation with p...
Article
Using a sample of 703 African American adolescents from the Family and Community Health Study (FACHS) along with census data from the year 2000, we examine the association between neighborhood-level gender equality and violence. We find that boys' and girls' violent behavior is unevenly distributed across neighborhood contexts. In particular, gende...
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Racism has historically been a primary source of discrimination against African Americans, but there has been little research on the role that skin tone plays in explaining experiences with racism. Similarly, colorism within African American families and the ways in which skin tone influences family processes is an understudied area of research. Us...
Article
Purpose: The timing and social context of pregnancy have significant implications for the well-being of African-American young people. Rarely, however, do studies focus on identifying the developmental processes associated with young people's avoidance of pregnancy until after adolescence. Methods: We tested hypotheses regarding the factors asso...
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Full-text available
Sexually transmitted infections disproportionately affect African Americans, particularly young women. The influence of a set of interrelated protective parenting processes-instrumental and emotional support, sexual risk communication, and encouragement of goals for employment or education-on emerging adult women was examined. Parenting was hypothe...
Article
This study sought to identify factors that forecast sexual risk and alcohol or other substance use patterns among 411 rural African American males as they transitioned from middle childhood to late adolescence. In addition, an exploration was undertaken to examine the contribution of both risk and protective factors in distinguishing rural African...
Article
Although GxE studies are typically based on the assumption that some individuals possess genetic variants that enhance their vulnerability to environmental adversity, the differential susceptibility model posits that these individuals are simply more sensitive to social context, whether that context be adverse or supportive. Thus those persons most...
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Despite the declining rate of teen pregnancies in the United States, academic and public health experts have expressed concern over the still relatively high rate of rapid repeat pregnancies among adolescents, particularly among minority youth. Using a sample of over 300 African American female adolescents, the current study used insights from the...
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Corporal punishment is a controversial practice used by the majority of American parents and is especially prevalent among African Americans. Research regarding its consequences has produced mixed results although it is clear that there is a need for considering the context within which corporal punishment is administered. To assess the impact of s...
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Past research has documented the positive association between parental hostility and offspring involvement in intimate partner violence. Researchers , practitioners, and parents typically adopt the standpoint that parental warmth may counter these negative lessons. However, Straus and colleagues argue that parents foster IPV to the extent that they...
Article
Full-text available
Research has documented the relationship between family stressors such as family economic hardship and marital conflict and adolescents' mental health symptoms, especially depressive symptoms. Few studies, however, have examined the processes whereby supportive parenting lessens this effect and the progression of mental health and physical health s...
Conference Paper
Past research has established that environmental adversity fosters a cluster of psychological traits (low self-control, hostile attribution bias, cynical view of conventional morality) that, in turn, increase the probability of crime. Presumably, these psychological characteristics are criminogenic because they increase the probability that individ...
Article
Sexual violence against women is a major concern to researchers and policy makers, as well as to the general public. This study uses a sample of more than 2,000 college students to investigate the extent to which exposure to harsh parenting practices and sexually explicit materials contributes to perpetration and victimization. Findings indicate th...
Article
Full-text available
Participation in risky sexual behaviors has many deleterious consequences and is a source of concern for parents as well as practitioners, researchers, and public policy makers. Past research has examined the effect of family structure and supportive parenting on risky sexual behaviors among emerging adults. In the present study, we attempt to iden...
Article
Previous research has documented that adverse life experiences during adolescence, particularly for ethnic minorities, have a long-term influence on income and asset attainment and that this relationship is largely mediated by educational achievement. We extend prior research by investigating three research questions. First, we investigate the exte...
Article
Past research has documented the positive association between parental hostility and offspring involvement in intimate partner violence. Researchers, practitioners, and parents typically adopt the standpoint that parental warmth may counter these negative lessons. However, Straus and colleagues argue that parents foster IPV to the extent that they...
Article
Full-text available
While the link between parenting and delinquency is well established, there is less consensus among scholars with regards to the processes that account for this link. The current study had two objectives. The first was to disentangle the effects of African American parents' use of corporal punishment and verbal abuse on the conduct problems of thei...