The Association of Ecological Variables and Psychological Distress with Exposure to Community Violence among Adolescents

By Rosenthal, Beth Spenciner; Wilson, W. Cody | Adolescence, Fall 2003 | Go to article overview

The Association of Ecological Variables and Psychological Distress with Exposure to Community Violence among Adolescents


Rosenthal, Beth Spenciner, Wilson, W. Cody, Adolescence


Community violence in the United States is a serious public health problem (Centers for Disease Control, 1993; Cooley, Turner, & Beidel, 1995; Earls, 1992; Fingerhut, Ingrain, & Feldman, 1992a, 1992b; Hausman, Spivak, & Prothrow-Stith, 1994; Koop & Lundberg, 1992; Lorion & Saltzman, 1993; Reiss, 1993; Richters, 1993; Shalala, 1993). Americans aged 12 years and above reported an estimated 1,750,000 nonsexual, nonfatal crimes according to the National Crime Victims Survey of 1998 (Rennison, 1999). Concern about exposure to community violence goes beyond physical trauma to include the psychological trauma that is assumed to be a consequence of such experience.

A number of psychological and biological models have attempted to explain the phenomenon of traumatic stress (Foy, Osato, Houskamp, & Neumann, 1992; Freedy & Hobfoll, 1995; Friedman, Charney, & Deutsch, 1995). Although the details of the models differ tremendously, they all share the central idea that traumatic stress involves exposure to adverse environmental events which produces a heightened negative emotional response that results in a resetting of homeostatic levels of the central nervous system that in turn produces an increase in the chronic level of negative emotional activation. A comprehensive theory of traumatic stress, however, is still a work in progress: the specification of the range of adverse environmental events, the mechanisms involved in resetting the homeostatic levels of the central nervous system, and the range of psychological symptoms have yet to be agreed upon. Nevertheless, the general theoretical perspective is that being a victim of violence is a stressful experience that requires psychological adaptation and may result in psychological sequelae (McCann, Sakheim, & Abrahamson, 1988).

Current thinking about traumatic stress has been much influenced by the conceptualization of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD; American Psychiatric Association, 1994). However, whereas PTSD invokes a single extreme event and symptoms associated with recall of that event, more recent thinking about traumatic stress considers it a more general phenomenon that may involve multiple less extreme events and more diffuse symptoms of psychological distress. Several theorists have argued that less extreme events that nevertheless arouse negative affect should be considered stressors, and that the effects of multiple experiences

of these events may accumulate (Compas, 1987; Cowen & Work, 1988; Root, 1992; Wallen, 1993). Root (1992) has referred to such relatively minor, but cumulative, stressor experiences as "insidious" trauma. Other investigators have pointed out that several conceptually different sets of psychological symptoms, such as anger, anxiety, depression, and dissociation, tend to occur together (i.e., to display comorbidity) in association with trauma and should perhaps be considered general psychological reactions to traumatic stress (Briere, 1995; Freedy & Donkervoet, 1995; Herman, 1992; McCann et al., 1988).

Incidents of community violence generally involve few individuals, often are not reported to authorities, and seldom receive widespread publicity. That is, exposure to chronic community violence (other than such things as mass shootings and sniper attacks) is a low salience phenomenon that fits the definition of insidious trauma. It is beginning to receive wider attention; for example, Dohrenwend (1998) has stated: "If we are to assess the role of event-related adversity in the occurrence of psychopathology in the general population, we must consider possibly stressful events that occur more frequently in the lives of individuals than the events in the extreme situations of human-made and natural disasters" (p. 5). Others have argued that "violent crime is a predominant contributing factor to the development of mental health problems" (Hanson, Kilpatrick, Falsetti, & Resnick, 1995, p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Association of Ecological Variables and Psychological Distress with Exposure to Community Violence among Adolescents
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.