Youth at risk: Community violence, trauma, and aggression in New England adolescents

Sandra Shanahan Rosser (2002)

This study explores individual responses to experiences with community violence in small northeastern city community to expand the scope of research on the impact of violence and aggression on youth. A sample of 149 students (ages 15-19) from two programs within a large, public high school in New England completed a battery of empirically validated self-report measures chosen to encompass the following areas of inquiry: (a) The rate of exposure to violence in their community and (b) the relationship between exposure to violence, and emotional functioning, particularly the prevalence of PTSD symptoms. Descriptive, correlational, and regression analyses were used to explore and identify patterns in the data set. Results demonstrate significant, positive relationships between exposure to school and community violence, and symptoms of PTSD and aggression. School and community violence were identified as significant predictors of trauma symptoms, even when controlling for the effects of family violence. Clinical and treatment implications are identified and discussed. These results support recent research, which suggests that we can no longer explain these effects by factors such as poverty, ethnicity and social decline as characterized in major metropolitan urban studies. In addition, this study emphasizes that school bullying and community violence are significant factors in the development of PTSD symptoms, and behavioral aggression in youth.