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Relationship Between Exposure to Community Violence and Psychological Distress Among Adolescents: A Meta-Analysis

NCJ Number
Violence and Victims Volume: 18 Issue: 3 Dated: June 2003 Pages: 335-352
W. Cody Wilson; Beth Spenciner Rosenthal
Date Published
June 2003
18 pages
This document discusses the size of the relationship between exposure to chronic community violence and psychological symptoms among adolescents.
This study focused on adolescents, their exposure to chronic nonsexual assault outside the home, and psychological symptoms as opposed to maladjustive behavior. A computerized search of the databases PsycInfo, Sociological Abstracts, Medline, Social Work Abstracts, and CINAHL for the years 1980-2000 was conducted to identify studies to be considered for this review. Seven criteria had to be met in order to be included in the review. Some of these criteria were the material had to be published in archival literature; include individuals in the age range of 12 to 19; and the dependent variables had to include psychological symptoms. Each of the 37 independent samples was coded in terms of 19 characteristics, including year of publication, geographical region from which sample came, and number of years for which exposure was reported. The search retrieved 27 different studies. The study samples varied considerably in terms of geographical region, age, gender, and ethnicity. The empirical literature reviewed overwhelmingly supported the contention that, among adolescents in the United States, level of exposure to chronic community violence was positively related to level of psychological distress. The effect size of this relationship was low-medium. The estimated effect size of the relationship points to new issues such as the characteristics of the psychosocial dynamics of resilience in the face of exposure to community violence and how exposure to community violence interacts with other potentially traumatic experiences in the producing of psychological distress. 73 references, appendix