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Causes and Consequences of Adolescents’ Exposure to Community Violence

Principal investigator: Albert Farrell, Ph.D.

Exposure to violence during adolescence has been associated with a host of physical and mental health problems with serious consequences for individuals and society. This project was designed to further knowledge and understanding of exposure to violence during adolescence and its impact on adjustment and externalizing problem behaviors. Its goals are to: (a) improve methods for measuring violence exposure including both witnessing violence and victimization, (b) determine the extent to which witnessing violence and experiencing specific forms of victimization increase adolescents’ risk for developing trauma symptoms and involvement in specific externalizing problem behaviors (i.e., violence, drug use and other delinquent behavior), (c) investigate the extent to which violence exposure is a cause or a consequence of externalizing problem behaviors, (d) identify mechanisms (i.e., mediators) that account for these relations, and (e) determine the extent to which positive adult and peer influences can protect adolescents from the negative consequences of exposure to violence. Improving our understanding of the causes and consequences of violence exposure and identifying malleable protective factors is highly relevant to developing interventions to break the link between violence exposure and externalizing problem behaviors.