The relationship between exposure to violence and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in inner-city youth

Veronica Paola Christopoulos, Pace University

Abstract

This study examined the relationship between violence exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in inner-city youth. The way in which inner city youth manifest trauma-related symptoms was also explored. Participants were 290 inner city middle school adolescents, predominately from low socioeconomic status. The school consisted of 7th and 8th graders from a New Jersey Latino community. Adolescents completed self-report measures assessing violence exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. ^ Results show that severity of violence is positively related to PTSD diagnosis and symptomatology. Adolescents who are exposed to non-life threatening or life-threatening violent events have a greater likelihood of developing PTSD than adolescents who are not exposed to violent events. As the severity of violence increases, there is a corresponding increase in the number of adolescents meeting PTSD criteria. In addition, adolescents who are exposed to violence have a higher level of trauma-related symptoms than adolescents who are not exposed to violence, and the severity of the symptoms corresponds with the severity of the acts of violence to which adolescents are exposed. Violent acts exposed to via several methods including hearing about, witnessing, or personal experience are each positively related to PTSD symptomatology. Lastly, life-threatening events are related to PTSD symptomatology among adolescents, whether these events occur to friends, family or to the adolescents themselves. ^ The results of the present study are consistent with prior research and provide further evidence of a relationship between violence exposure and PTSD symptomatology. The understanding that community violence exposure is significantly related to adolescent trauma may lead to improved identification and intervention efforts. For example, the identification of adolescents who display peer relationship and/or school difficulties as well as PTSD symptomatology may lead to the development of effective strategies and interventions related to these issues. Finally, the results of this study highlight the need for community awareness of violence ramifications among adolescents and the need to develop assessment and intervention programs. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Veronica Paola Christopoulos, "The relationship between exposure to violence and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in inner-city youth" (January 1, 2002). ETD Collection for Pace University. Paper AAI3036910.
http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/dissertations/AAI3036910

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