The Longitudinal Relations Between Dimensions of Community Violence Exposure and Developmental Outcomes Among Adolescent Ethnic Minority Males

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Abstract

Objective: Community violence exposure is multidimensional, yet the majority of studies examining the relation of exposure and developmental outcomes use measures that collapse a wide range of experiences into a global summed scale. Building on research conducted in child maltreatment indicating that the impact of exposure varies as a function of the nature of maltreatment, the present study examines the contribution of dimensions of exposure to community violence (i.e., type—hearing about violence, witnessing violence, victimization—and relationship to perpetrator) on 3 areas of adolescent functioning: depression, aggression, and attention problems. Method: Longitudinal data was gathered from a sample of racial/ethnic minority male adolescents (N = 246) living in impoverished urban neighborhoods. Multiple regression analyses assessed the relation between dimensions and outcomes cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Results: In line with findings from maltreatment, dimensions of violence exposure mattered differentially for developmental outcomes when examined concurrently. However, when relations were examined longitudinally, controlling for initial levels of functioning, the majority these relations disappeared. Conclusions: Assessing exposure to specific dimensions of exposure might improve understanding of adolescent concurrent, but not later functioning. Findings underscore the value of prospective data when examining the impact of dimensions of community violence exposure on functioning.

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