Exposure to violence in adolescence and precocious role exits

J Youth Adolesc. 2009 Mar;38(3):269-86. doi: 10.1007/s10964-008-9343-2. Epub 2008 Oct 17.


Exposure to violence is a serious public health concern that compromises adolescents by affecting their behavior and psychological well-being. The current study advances knowledge about the consequences of exposure to violence in adolescence by applying a life course perspective to evaluate the developmental implications of adolescents' exposure to violence. In particular, drawing on a sample of 11,949 school-aged adolescents in the U.S., we examine whether exposure to violence in adolescence is associated with precocious role exits that some adolescents experience. Exposure to violence is conceptualized as including both direct (i.e., experiencing physical victimization) and indirect exposure (i.e., witnessing others' victimization). Three types of direct exposure to violence are examined: street, intimate partner, and family victimization, as well as four types of indirect exposure including: street, peer, and school violence as well as exposure to family/friend suicide. Using three waves of longitudinal data from the Add Health Study, we find that exposure to violence is associated with greater risks of running away from home, dropping out of high school, having a child, attempting suicide, and coming into contact with the criminal justice system in later adolescence. In addition, risks depend upon the relational context in which the exposure to violence occurred, risks increase with greater exposure to violence, and risks are, for the most part, highest for those youth exposed to both indirect and direct violence in adolescence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency / psychology
  • Juvenile Delinquency / statistics & numerical data
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / psychology
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Runaway Behavior / psychology
  • Runaway Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Problems / psychology*
  • Social Problems / statistics & numerical data
  • Student Dropouts / psychology
  • Student Dropouts / statistics & numerical data
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data
  • United States
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data