Loyola University Chicago

Department of Psychology


Cara DiClemente

Cara DiClemente
Training Track: Clinical
Lab: Risk and Resilience Lab
Advisor: Maryse Richards, Ph.D.
Office: Coffey 201


I am generally interested in discovering potential protective factors and assessing interventions for reducing externalizing problems in underserved youth exposed to trauma. I have more recently been interested specifically in evaluating Restorative Justice implementation in schools as a novel method for reducing biased exclusionary punishments towards minority youth and disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline.

Masters Thesis Title

Coping with Exposure to Community Violence: Assessing the Role of Avoidance in Reducing Delinquency and Aggression in Low-Income Urban Adolescents

Masters Thesis Abstract

Exposure to community violence has disabling effects on the mental health of youth in the US, with high rates of exposure for African American adolescents from underserved, urban communities. Past literature suggests that avoidant coping, specifically behavioral avoidance, may be most useful for youth exposed to uncontrollable stress. The current study assessed the utility of coping strategies in reducing aggression and delinquency in 267 sixth through eighth grade African American youth. First, confirmatory factor analyses revealed a three-factor structure of coping: cognitive approach, behavioral approach, and avoidance. Next, moderated moderation findings showed that for boys, avoidance and approach strategies increased risk for delinquency and aggression. For girls, high use of avoidance was protective, while low use of avoidance and approach was harmful. These results suggest that in general, more coping is helpful for girls but unhelpful for boys. This research enhances understanding of how youth adaptively cope with community violence.

Masters Thesis Committee

Maryse Richards, Ph.D., Noni Gaylord-Harden, Ph.D.