The goal of the current project is to examine the model of pathologic adaptation to community violence in a sample of African American and Latino male adolescents residing in low socioeconomic urban neighborhoods. The pathologic adaptation model suggests that youth who become desensitized to violence show less emotional distress, but more violent behavior. The intent of the current project is to test the feasibility of the model, as well as understand how protective factors (i.e., support from family, coping strategies) and vulnerability factors (i.e., deviant beliefs, aggression status) may increas or decrease risk for pathologic adaptation. This application proposes to achieve this goal by conducting secondary data analysis with this vulnerable population. The proposed study will be accomplished through three aims.
Aim 1 is to examine the model of pathologic adaptation to community violence using multiple indicators of violence (i.e., severity, witnessing, and victimization).
Aim 1 will be tested by [latent growth curve modeling].
Aim 2 is to examine coping processes, parental support, and deviant beliefs as moderators of the linear and nonlinear associations of community violence to pathologic adaptation outcomes. [Latent growth curve modeling] will be used to test Aim 2.
Aim 3 is to examine moderating effects of participant ethnicity and pre-test aggression status on the associations of community violence to pathologic adaptation outcomes. [Latent growth curve modeling] will also be used to test Aim 3. The proposed research has the potential to narrow the critical research gap in knowledge on the variations in the impact of exposure to community violence among young men of color residing in low-income, urban communities. The knowledge gained from the study can be used to inform the development of effective preventive interventions to preempt or halt the progression of maladaptive outcomes in these youth. Specifically, the longitudinal, prospective examination of the pathologic adaptation model in this sample will help to identify specific periods of vulnerability, critical levels of ecological risk, vulnerability and protective factors, and, consequently, determine when, where and how to intervene. The identification of aspects of exposure to community violence associated with maladaptive outcomes will reveal aspects of youth environments that can be modified as part of community-level efforts to improve adolescent well-being. The identification of vulnerability factors (i.e., pre-test aggression-statu) will help to identify youth who are at heightened risk for desensitization in response to community violence exposure and, thus, should be targeted for intervention. In addition, understanding how individual (i.e., deviant cognitions, coping strategies) and family (i.e., parental support) factors may increase or reduce the risk of maladaptive outcomes in response to exposure to community violence will yield information about malleable processes that can be targeted to maximize intervention efficacy/effectiveness.

Public Health Relevance

Although there have been some successful efforts to curtail violence and crime in urban communities, ethnic minority male adolescents who reside in these communities remain vulnerable to very high levels of exposure to community violence and violence-related outcomes. The goal of the proposal is to elucidate the role of community violence exposure in the development of emotional and behavioral problems over time in a particularly vulnerable group, namely low-income, ethnic minority male adolescents. Such information is essential to inform the development of effective preventive interventions to reduce health disparities and the economic and social burden of community violence exposure (e.g., incarceration, homicide) in ethnic minority males.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Small Research Grants (R03)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Pediatrics Subcommittee (CHHD)
Program Officer
Maholmes, Valerie
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Loyola University Chicago
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Gaylord-Harden, Noni K; So, Suzanna; Bai, Grace J et al. (2016) Examining the Effects of Emotional and Cognitive Desensitization to Community Violence Exposure in Male Adolescents of Color. Am J Orthopsychiatry :