Psychological symptoms linking exposure to community violence and academic functioning in African American adolescents.J Youth Adolesc. 2013 Feb; 42(2):250-62.JY
African American adolescents are exposed disproportionately to community violence, increasing their risk for emotional and behavioral symptoms that can detract from learning and undermine academic outcomes. The present study examined whether aggressive behavior and depressive and anxious symptoms mediated the association between exposure to community violence and academic functioning, and if the indirect effects of community violence on academic functioning differed for boys and girls, in a community sample of urban African American adolescents (N = 491; 46.6 % female). Structural equation modeling was used to examine the indirect effect of exposure to community violence in grade 6 on grade 8 academic functioning. Results revealed that aggression in grade 7 mediated the association between grade 6 exposure to community violence and grade 8 academic functioning. There were no indirect effects through depressive and anxious symptoms, and gender did not moderate the indirect effect. Findings highlight the importance of targeting aggressive behavior for youth exposed to community violence to not only improve their behavioral adjustment but also their academic functioning. Implications for future research are discussed.