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The current study examined the coping strategies, exposure to violence and psychological trauma symptoms of violent adolescents compared to less violent and nonviolent adolescents in a community sample. An anonymous self-report questionnaire was administered to students in six public high schools (grades 9-12). The 10% most violent adolescents were identified and compared to their less violent and nonviolent peers. A total of 3724 students represented 68% of adolescents in all targeted schools. Ages ranged from 14 to 19 years; 52% were female; and 35% were African-American, 34% Caucasian and 23% Hispanic. Analyses revealed that violent adolescents compared to their less violent and nonviolent peers employed more maladaptive coping strategies, were exposed to higher levels of violence and reported higher clinical levels of psychological trauma symptoms. Maladaptive coping was also significantly associated with psychological trauma symptoms and violent behavior, even after controlling for the influence of demographic factors. The findings support the importance of appropriate identification, assessment and referral services for adolescents in nonclinical settings, and the role that coping strategies play in contributing to adolescent mental health and well-being.