Examining the developmental process of risk for exposure to community violence among urban youth.
ABSTRACT Considerable research has documented the effects of community violence exposure on adolescents' behavior and mental health functioning, yet there has been less research on the process by which early risks increase the likelihood that youth will be exposed to community violence. The current study used data from a community epidemiologically defined sample of 623 urban youth followed from 1st grade through adolescence to examine the process by which early-onset aggressive behavior and poor academic readiness influenced risk for community violence exposure. Consistent with transactional developmental theories, early-onset aggressive and disruptive behavior was associated with poor academic readiness; these early risks contributed to later peer rejection, and subsequent conduct problems and greater affiliation with deviant peers, which in turn increased youths' exposure to community violence. Having an enhanced understanding of the risk process directs attention to potential targets for preventive interventions for youth at risk for subsequent exposure to violence.