Impact of community violence on African-American children and adolescents in a high violent crime neighborhood
Cunningham, Phillippe Belton
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This project examined psychosocial functioning associated with exposure to a chronic stressor, namely, community violence among randomly selected 8 to 17 year old African-American children and adolescents residing in a relatively high violent crime neighborhood. A structured psychiatric interview, the Diagnostic Interview for Children and Adolescents-Revised, and self-report measures including Sexual Abuse Fear Evaluation, Horowitz Impact of Events Scale, and Children's Depression Inventory were administered. Consistent with previous findings, the results indicate that inner-city African-American children are exposed to a considerable amount of community violence. As predicted, high levels of exposure to community violence was significantly associated with various measures of psychological distress, particularly with externalizing symptomatology. Additionally, regression analyses revealed that exposure to community violence added significant variance above and beyond that contributed by pertinent demographic characteristics. Partial support was found for the hypotheses that number and quality of social supports as well as self-perceived competence (self-esteem) across various domains moderated the relationship between exposure to community violence and psychological distress. Discussion of the relatively low levels of PTSD, fear, and depression are discussed in terms of sample characteristics and cross-cultural relevance of current diagnostic nosology, as well as, instruments measuring psychological distress. Findings are also discussed within the context of the Conservation of Resources Model of stress.
- Doctoral Dissertations