Community violence and health risk factors among adolescents on Chicago's southside: does gender matter?

School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.
Journal of Adolescent Health (Impact Factor: 2.97). 06/2010; 46(6):600-2. DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2009.11.213
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We assessed community violence, school engagement, negative peer influences, mental health problems, and human immunodeficiency virus risk among 563 black adolescents. Boys reported higher rates of community violence exposures and gang involvement, while girls reported higher mental health distress. In the presence of multiple risk factors, negative peer norms were the strongest correlate of human immunodeficiency virus risk behaviors.

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    ABSTRACT: Low-income, urban African American (AA) girls are at heightened risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and violence exposure may be an important risk factor. AA girls (N = 177) from low-income communities in Chicago completed a 2-year longitudinal study of HIV-risk behavior involving five waves of data collection (ages 12-16 at baseline) and a sixth wave (ages 14-22) assessing lifetime trauma and victimization history. Childhood exposure to violence (CEV) represented reports of physical, sexual, or witnessed violence before age 12. Latent growth curve analysis examined CEV as a covariate of sexual experience, number of sexual partners, and inconsistent condom use trajectories. CEV was associated with greater sexual risk, although the pattern differed across the three outcomes. Overall, findings emphasize the need for early interventions to reduce sexual risk among low-income urban girls who have experienced violence. Efforts to address or prevent violence exposure may also reduce rates of STIs in this population.
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    ABSTRACT: This longitudinal study examined psychopathology as an explanatory mechanism linking childhood violence exposure (CVE) to sexual risk in 177 African American girls recruited from mental health clinics serving low-income communities in Chicago. Beginning at average age 14, girls completed five interviews over 2 years and a sixth assessment including trauma history. CVE reflected sexual, physical, or witnessed violence before age 12. Latent growth modeling accounted for developmental change across the six time points. Externalizing, but not internalizing, symptoms mediated the pathway from CVE to number of partners (indirect effect = .16, 95 % CIBCBS = .04-.29) and inconsistent condom use (indirect effect = .11, CIBCBS = .004-.21). Externalizing problems associated with CVE may help to explain its relationship with sexual risk in low-income, treatment-seeking African American girls. Behavioral interventions addressing aggression, impulsivity, and general risk-taking may be most effective in reducing sexual risk in this population.
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    ABSTRACT: Research examining mental health in violence-affected youth in representative samples is rare. Using data from the nationally representative German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS) this study reports on gender-specific prevalence rates and associations of a broad range of internalizing and externalizing mental health problems: emotional problems, conduct problems, ADHD, disordered eating, somatic pain and substance use in youth variously affected by violence. While internalizing is generally more common in girls and externalizing in boys, observations of prior non-normative studies suggest reverse associations once an individual is affected by violence. The occurrence of such "gender cross-over effects" is therefore examined in a representative sample. The sample consisted of 6,813 adolescents aged 11 to 17 from the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS): Applying multivariate logistic regression analyses, associations between each type of violence history and mental health indicator were determined for perpetrators, victims, and perpetrating victims of youth violence. Moderating effects of gender were examined by using product term interaction. Victim status was associated primarily with internalizing problems, while perpetrators were more prone to externalizing problems. Perpetrating victims stood out with respect to the number and strength of risk associations with all investigated mental health indicators. However, the risk profiles of all violence-affected youth included both internalizing and externalizing mental health problems. Gender cross-over effects were found for girls and boys: despite lower overall prevalence, girls affected by violence were at far higher risk for conduct problems and illicit drug use; by contrast, somatic pain, although generally lower in males, was positively associated with perpetrator status and perpetrating victim status in boys. All violence-affected youth exhibited significantly higher rates of cumulative mental health problems. The results highlight the importance of violence for the mental health of youth. They reveal a particular vulnerability as a function of gender. Implications for policy making, clinical practice and research are discussed.
    BMC Public Health 07/2013; 13(1):628. · 2.08 Impact Factor


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