Youth's Strategies for Staying Safe and Coping with the Stress of Living in Violent Communities.

University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing.
Journal of Community Psychology (Impact Factor: 0.99). 09/2010; 38(7):874-885. DOI: 10.1002/jcop.20402
Source: PubMed


Youth living in urban environments of pervasive violence are exposed to a variety of violence-related stressors. This qualitative descriptive study sought to ascertain how community-dwelling youth perceived exposure to violence and how these youth identified and used available resources. The intent of this community-based participatory research study was to help inform the design of a youth violence prevention center intervention. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 18 youth ages 10-16. Youth reported high levels of exposure to neighborhood violence. A theme of identifying and navigating safe and unsafe places emerged. Other stressors were more proximal and included interpersonal issues and conflicts. Youth used neighborhood and individual resources to cope with stressors. Youth maintained a high level of vigilance and developed clear strategies to safely navigate violent neighborhoods. Implications for youth due to the constant vigilance and exquisite sensitivity to stressors of chronic neighborhood violence are discussed.

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