Violence prevention programs for adolescents at risk: Impact on program development, implementation, and evaluation

Debra M DeFour-Pierce, Pace University


There has been very little research that identifies symptoms that are predictive of individual risk factors due to exposure to community violence and have integrated this research to develop, implement, and evaluate specific interventions for youth at risk for psychological and behavioral symptoms. This study explored the effects of exposure to community violence on adolescents' psychological and behavioral adjustment and their need for a comprehensive, multi-level secondary prevention program that works with youths to prevent violent behaviors in resolving social problems effectively and nonviolently. The participants (n = 127) in this study were inner-city youths who attended an intermediate school in the Morrisania section of the Bronx. The youth ranged in age from 11 to 15 years. The mean age of the youth was 13 years. Overall, 32% of the youth were 12 years old; 26% were 13 years old; and 30% were 14 years old. The majority of the students were in the seventh grade (66%), while 34% were in the eight grade. There were 57 males and 70 females. The majority of these adolescents identified themselves as being from an African-American cultural background (51%); 41% were from a Hispanic cultural background; 8% of the youth checked the "other" category to identify their cultural background. The students in this "other" group identified themselves as Guyanese. Exposure to violence was defined by the overall exposure to violence, which consisted of two categories: (1) the "type" (chase, threat, hit, shot, stab, kill) and (2) the "target" (self, saw, heard) of violence experience the participants encountered. The dependent variables were hopelessness; beliefs supporting aggression; anxiety, depression, delinquency, and aggressive behaviors; social acceptance, behavioral conduct, and global self-worth. The first hypothesis stated that children exposed to community violence would experience feelings of hopelessness. This hypothesis was not supported. The second hypothesis stated that there would be a positive relationship between exposure to community violence and beliefs supporting aggression. This was not supported by the research. The third hypothesis stated that exposure to violence would be positively related to delinquent, aggressive, anxious, and depressed behaviors. This hypothesis was supported. The fourth hypothesis stated that exposure to community violence would be negatively related to social competence, behavioral conduct, and global self-worth. The correlations between exposure to community violence and (a) social competence and (b) behavioral conduct was not significant. However, a negative correlation was found between exposure to violence and global self-worth. Demographic variables age and gender were also examined to determine if there was a relationship with exposure to community violence. Exposure variable categories were explored to determine which one contributed primarily to psychological and behavioral symptoms. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Subject Area

Social psychology|Psychotherapy|Criminology|Social work

Recommended Citation

DeFour-Pierce, Debra M, "Violence prevention programs for adolescents at risk: Impact on program development, implementation, and evaluation" (1998). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9840690.



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