Purpose: The purpose of this research was to study adolescents' perceptions of violence in their communities and schools and examine the relationship between these reports and their emotional and behavioral functioning, controlling for the effects of family violence and other sociodemographic variables.
Methods: Respondents included 935 urban and suburban high school students who completed the Youth Self-Report (YSR) as well as measures assessing their perceptions of community, school, and family violence.
Results: This sample of high school students was exposed to high levels of violence in their communities and schools. Over 45% of the students reported witnessing severe forms of violence such as a shooting or stabbing in their communities or schools during the year prior to the study. Hierarchic regression analyses revealed that for males, exposure to community and school violence was a significant predictor of aggressive acting-out behaviors, even when controlling for the effects of family violence and other sociodemographic variables. For girls, only exposure to school violence was a significant predictor of aggression. The results for internalizing scores (depression, withdrawal) were less impressive, particularly for males.
Conclusions: The high levels of violence exposure of adolescents in their communities and schools and the associated increase in behavior problems suggest the need for developing school and community intervention programs to treat violence and its impact.