Exposure to Violence and Posttraumatic Stress Among Youth in Public Housing: Do Community, Family, and Peers Matter?


This study examines the mediating roles of neighborhood risk factors, parental behaviors, and peers on the relationship between community violence exposure and posttraumatic stress in a sample of urban youth in low-income public housing communities. Data are from 320 African-American youth living in public housing in a northeastern city in the USA. Structural equation modeling was utilized to examine the stated relationships. Study results point to significant effects of violence exposure on posttraumatic stress in urban youth. While findings indicated indirect effects of neighborhood risk, parenting practices, and exposure to delinquent peers on posttraumatic stress, each of these paths operates through their relationship with violence exposure, with exposure to delinquent peers having the strongest mediating effect. Exposure to delinquent peers mediates the effects of neighborhood risks and parental behaviors on exposure to community violence, representing one potential intervention point to disrupt the deleterious effects of exposure to violence among youth. Our findings suggest interventions that address peer influence, and group norms may serve as protective factors against the risk of youth violence exposure. Overall, results highlight the co-occurring socioecological context of community violence exposure for youth living in public housing.


Social Work

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Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities



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