Relationship Proximity to Victims of Witnessed Community Violence: Associations With Adolescent Internalizing and Externalizing Behaviors

Department of Psychology, George Washington University,Washington, DC 20052, USA.
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry (Impact Factor: 1.5). 01/2012; 82(1):1-9. DOI: 10.1111/j.1939-0025.2011.01135.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Witnessing community violence has been linked with several adverse outcomes for adolescents, including emotional and behavioral problems. Among youth who have witnessed community violence, proximity to the victim of community violence is one factor that may determine, in part, the nature of adolescents' responses to community violence exposure. The present study examines whether relationship proximity to the victim of community violence is associated with internalizing and externalizing behaviors among a sample of urban and predominantly African American adolescents (N = 501) who have witnessed community violence. In 10th grade, participants reported whether they had witnessed 10 community violence events during the past year, and, if so, whether the victim of the violence was a family member, close friend, acquaintance, or stranger. Witnessed community violence against a family member or close friend was associated with depressive symptoms, and witnessed community violence against known individuals was associated with anxiety symptoms. Witnessing community violence against familiar persons and strangers was linked with aggressive behavior. Gender differences in these associations and implications for assessment and intervention with community violence-exposed youth are discussed.


Available from: Rhonda C Boyd, Jun 14, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: The current study employed latent class analysis (LCA) to identify distinct profiles of community violence exposure and their associations to desensitization outcomes in 241 African American early adolescents (M age = 12.86, SD = 1.28) in the sixth through eighth grade from under-resourced urban communities. Participants self-reported on their exposure to community violence, as well as on depressive and anxiety symptoms. The LCA revealed three distinct classes: a class exposed to low levels of violence (low exposure class), a class exposed to moderately high levels of victimization (victimization class), and a class exposed to high levels of all types of violence (high exposure class). Consistent with predictions, the high exposure class showed the lowest levels of depressive symptoms, suggesting a desensitization outcome. Gender and age were also examined in relation to the classes, and age was significantly associated with an increased risk of being a member of the high exposure class relative to the low exposure class. Using person-based analyses to examine desensitization outcomes provides useful information for prevention and intervention efforts, as it helps to identify a specific subgroup of youth that may be more likely to show desensitization outcomes in the context of community violence. © The Author(s) 2015.
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