Urban stress and mental health among African-American youth: assessing the link between exposure to violence, problem behavior, and coping strategies.J Cult Divers. 2001 Fall; 8(3):94-104.JC
This project examines gender differences in exposure to violence, coping strategies and problem behavior among 306 African-American middle and high school students in the state of Virginia. Gender differences in problem behaviors among youth exposed to violence as either victims or witnesses are examined in addition to variations in coping strategies. Relying on recent research examining violent behavior and victimization events, the study focuses on the internalizing and externalizing behavioral characteristics (i.e., academic achievement, anxiety, depression, negative self-esteem, and delinquency) of urban students exposed to violence and the extent to which coping strategies differ. Results show specific gender differences with regard to problem behavior and coping strategy among African-American youth exposed to violence. For adolescent males, exposure to violence and victimization is strongly associated with externalizing problem behaviors such as delinquency, while adolescent females exposed to violence and victimization are more likely to exhibit internalizing symptoms indicative of post-traumatic stress disorder. Among students exposed to violence and victimization, females are more likely to use problem-focused coping (i.e., social support) as an adaptive strategy in comparison to males. Implications for intervention and future research are discussed.