The broad objective of this research is to understand the psychosocial dynamics of the impact of exposure to chronic community violence (street violence) on the mental health of older urban adolescents; and, thereby, provide the foundation knowledge for developing interventions that will optimize, among urban youth, the level of psychosocial functioning that characterizes mental health.
The specific aims of the proposed research are: 1) to describe how the level of exposure to community violence during high school interacts with experience with other adverse circumstances and events in affecting the level of psychological distress; 2) to describe how the effect of exposure to community violence on psychological distress is moderated by the presence of selected neighborhood, family, and individual variables; 3) to develop and test a multivariable statistical model incorporating level of experience with several specific adverse circumstances and events and several ecological (neighborhood, family, and individual) variables as independent variables] that accounts for a substantial amount of variance in psychological distress among urban adolescents; and 4) to describe how elapsed time moderates the relationship between exposure to community violence in high school and the later manifesting of psychological distress symptoms. The research studies a population of older adolescents who have recently graduated from high school in New York City. The adolescents are from minority racial and ethnic backgrounds, and are very diverse in terms of: a) the characteristics of the neighborhoods in which they live; b) the sociodemographic characteristics of their families; and c) selected personal characteristics. The population has levels of exposure to chronic community violence similar to that of adolescents living in other large urban communities; and levels of psychological distress similar to that of a national representative sample of young adults. Data will be collected using a group-administered self-report questionnaire. The principal variables are to be measured by multi-item scales with high levels of reliability. The hypotheses will be tested using a cross-sectional correlational research design with a sample of 500; and a prospective panel longitudinal research design with a sample of 200. The data will be analyzed using multiple regression analysis.
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