Examining Effects of Family and Community Violence

The current study examined the unique and interactive effects of family and community violence across types of violence (weapon, physical, and death) and relationship proximity (self, family/friend, and strangers) in African American adolescents (mean age = 12.63, SD = 0.99, 54% female). Items from the community violence and family violence measures were categorized into a three-factor model of cross-contextual violence exposure that characterized violence by type and relationship proximity. Results of structural equation modeling showed that the proposed model fit the current data, and all three factors of violence significantly predicted symptoms of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Exposure to violence directed at a friend or family member significantly predicted anxiety beyond the other domains. The interaction between being victimized and the victimization of acquaintances or strangers predicted depressive symptoms. Finally, latent profile analysis revealed a two-class model: low-exposure and high-exposure groups, with the high-exposure group reporting more mental health symptoms.