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: 1.36). 01/2012; 82(1):1-9. DOI: 10.1111/j.1939-0025.2011.01135.x
Source: PubMed


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.

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    • "Exposure to violence during childhood and adolescence, in terms of both direct victimization and secondary exposures such as witnessing violent acts, puts youth at increased risk for a number of adverse health and behavioral outcomes. These adverse outcomes include depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder [6] [7], aggressive behavior [8] [9], suicide ideation [10], and declines in school achievements and high school completion [11] [12]. Violence victimization can also lead to feelings of despondency about having a happy or long life and feelings of being uncared for or unloved [13]. "
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    • "Jacques-Tiura, & Baltes, 2009; and Lynch, 2003, for reviews). For instance, results from a number of cross-sectional (e.g., Ceballo, Ramirez, Hearn, & Maltese, 2003; Shahinfar, Fox, & Leavitt, 2000; Turner et al., 2006; Zinzow et al., 2009) and longitudinal (e.g., Kennedy, Bybee, Sullivan, & Greeson, 2010; Lambert et al., 2010) studies suggest that exposure to community violence is associated with symptoms of depression, controlling for a range of covariates. Anxiety symptoms, such as generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, and specific phobias, comprise another commonly cited correlate of youth CVE (Cooley-Quille, Boyd, Frantz, & Walsh, 2001; Horowitz, McKay, & Marshall, 2005). "
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