Training Track: Clinical
Lab: Risk and Resilience Lab
Advisor: Maryse Richards, Ph.D.
Office: Coffey Hall 442
trauma, posttraumatic stress, exposure to community violence, gang violence, risk and resilience, family functioning, childhood and adolescent development, pediatric health psychology, neurological disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, neuropsychological assessment
Masters Thesis Title
Posttraumatic Stress, Family Functioning, and Adjustment in Urban African American Youth Exposed to Violence: A Moderated Mediation Model
Masters Thesis Abstract
Exposure to community violence is a pressing public health issue that disproportionately impacts poor, urban, and ethnic minority youth. It has been associated with a multitude of negative externalizing and internalizing symptoms, most frequently with posttraumatic stress. This study investigates the role that posttraumatic stress has in mediating the relation between exposure to community violence and other adjustment difficulties. Moreover, because not all adolescents experience these difficulties in the face of significant violence exposure, the study examines the moderating role of family cohesion and support in buffering the effect of violence and posttraumatic stress on later adjustment. A sample of 268 low-income, urban, African American sixth graders living in high crime neighborhoods participated in a three-year longitudinal study measuring the effects of community violence exposure. Family cohesion and daily family support exhibited a protective-stabilizing or buffering effect for several of the proposed outcomes. Posttraumatic stress was shown to mediate the effect of witnessing community violence on subsequent internalizing symptoms and aggression. However, the strength of these indirect effects was dependent on level of family cohesion. The findings provide evidence in support for interventions provided at both individual and family levels. Mental health providers working with this population should be aware of the intertwined nature of chronic exposure to community violence, posttraumatic stress, and subsequent maladaptive outcomes
Masters Thesis Committee
Maryse Richards, Ph.D. and James Garbarino, Ph.D.
Examining Exposure to Community Violence, Trauma, Adjustment, and Family Functioning in Youth Living in Low-Income Urban Environments: Differing Methods of Measurement
The three studies presented in the current proposal seek to address the interlocking nature of exposure to community violence, adjustment difficulties, such as posttraumatic stress, and family functioning among ethnic minority adolescents living in economically disadvantaged and socially toxic neighborhoods. Understanding the nexus and complex interactions between these variables is critical to more effectively address intervention efforts and policy issues in this area. Furthermore, each study in this collection utilizes various methodologies and measurements of violence exposure, its consequences, and familial protective factors, providing a more nuanced understanding of these relationships. These differing approaches address the aforementioned methodological limitations present in the current literature, including inconsistent definitions of violence exposure, overreliance on retrospective questionnaires, cross-sectional designs, and atheoretical foundations, which inhibit a cohesive understanding of the nature and effects of violence.
Maryse Richards, James Garbarino, Cate Santiago, and David Treering